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Need some light on Throat Cancer

Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2013

Hi All,


My friend has been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in the throat. We just got the biopsy results yesterday and its mentioned as malignant. He is 67Yrs old, non-smoker and non-drinker. He has a history of bloop pressure and diabetes (currenly on daily medicines and under control).


He started having coughs while eating since July. Also after a month or so he started coughing if he talks continuously for 10 mins+. He went to his regular clinic, ENT and Thyroid specialists...they all gave him different diagnosis and treatments.


Then last month, he spotted blood twice in his sputum and then we got a bit worried. Went to a big hospital chain where they did endoscopy and then biopsy. The tumor is at the juncture of food pipe and wind pipe (more inclined towards the food pipe). Today he is going to meet the radiologist and chemotherapist to discuss further tests/treatment. MRI/CT has not yet been taken so we are not sure in what stage it is now. 


I will keep posted here about the tests we did and the results/treatment progress. Please pray for him and any advice, guidance would be of great help and support to us.


phrannie51's picture
Posts: 4672
Joined: Mar 2012

but am ever so glad you found us.

At this juncture in your friend's diagnosis, it sounds like he's in good hands.  Once he's seen the radiologist and the Oncologist, they will set him up for a PET scan, so they know precisely where the tumor is, how big, etc.  They will then set him up for chemo and rads....on a schedule.

For the time being, tell him to eat all he can.....might as well gain some weight now, because he'll be losing some once treatment starts.  Tell him that the time between now and when treatment does start will seem LONG.....but most of us had to wait a few weeks for the Doc's to get their ducks in a row.....it isn't uncommon to wait a month or 6 weeks to get going.

Come back here when you know more.....we're really good at filling in the blanks that the Drs. seem to leave out.


CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4303
Joined: May 2012


Welcome to the H&N forum, so sorry you find yourself and your friend here.

As mentioned, now that they have confirmed the problem they (doctors) will now work up a plan tailored to him.  For now, try to relax and if you might want to look through the SuperThread at the top of the opening page for lots of information.

Remember, these problems are fixed every day.


Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

As mentioned...., sorry you find yourself here, but in all honesty, it's a great place to be....

Myself and many here have had similar circumstances..., I was STGIII SCC Tonsils and a lymphnode...

I was also HPV+, as I suspect your friend might have gotten his cancer via HPV as well, as he is a non-smoker.

First, know that though the treatment is brutal, it's very doable by most.

Usually treatment consist of..., Surgery, Chemo, and Radiation... solo and or any combination of the three...

Check here as things develope, check the SuperThread as Matt mentioned, and hang on for the ride...

Also, maintain a positive outlook, and keep lots of humor in your pocket.

BTW, I was diagnosed January 2009, surgery, chemo and rads... I've been clean and clear since finishing treatment in June 2009.



donfoo's picture
Posts: 1644
Joined: Dec 2012

It is a drag to be here but glad you found CSN. And you are here early in the game. You can get lots of info by reviewing the superthread posts (see first one in list). When you get more details make sure to post and ask questions. Don

hwt's picture
Posts: 2330
Joined: Jun 2012

Sorry to hear that you had the need to find us for your friend. It's a difficult journey but doable. I believe you have found the best spot on the Internet for questions and answers. Everyone here is honest and caring. You can ask anything.

God bless your friend during their journey.


Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2013

Dear All, 


Thanks for all your support and guidance. The tumour is in his epiglottis. One hope the docs gave us is that the cancer is in early stage and scan showsed that it has not spread. We were assured that this type of cancer will not spread and hence no need to worry about.


He is starting is radio+chemo from this wednesday for a period of 7 weeks and followed by a review after 2 months. Radio is 5 days a week with 10 mins session per day. Chemo is once a week. Also we were told that he will have very less side effects and mostly no hairfall for the package we have chosen. No travelling or consuming outside food is advised. 


Right now we didnt think of asking for a second opinion as my friend thinks it will be too confusing to get mixed opinions/suggestions from diffrerent docs. So can you please tell me if the course suggested above will be good for him? We are just hoping that he should not have side effects.


So far he is taking all these in a positive way (i mean to say he doesnt look tensed or panic. But as it in mentioned in several posts, we cannot really figure out what is going in his mind or what he is going through)


Will keep updating after we have the first session this wednesday. I wish i am by his side when the treatment starts. I will be joining him only early next month. Till then all our thoughts are with him. Please pray for him to get well soon.

spector551's picture
Posts: 109
Joined: Nov 2013

Because it isn't going to go according to the picture the dr is painting, in all likelihood. They told me almost the exact thing they told your friend - and although I did hold up to the radiation fairly well (I'm starting to get blasted now in the 7th week), the "low-dose cisplatin" rocked my world. Lost almost all of my hair, destroyed my veins, gave me stomach issues - blah... cisplatin is no fun. I'm not saying that these things will happen to your friend, of course - I'm only saying that it rarely ever goes according to the happy picture portrayed by the doctors... and they aren't expecting it to, honestly. They try to keep your nerves in check and not give you any preconceived ideas because anxiety does play a large role in the treatment. However, I am the type that wants to be able to gear up mentally for the right kind of fight.


God bless,


wmc's picture
Posts: 1792
Joined: Jan 2014

I'm sorry you and your friend are going through this. I just went through the same. Lost weight, sour throat, coughing up blood, and cancer of in supraglottic, squamous cell carcinoma stageIII. I did not have radation because my lungs were too bad to servive it. I was a smoker. My only chose was to have a total laryngectomy and am now a neck breather, but I can still talk. The doctors put in a TEP prosthesis so I can talk.  But that is not all that bad. They got all the cancer and I feel so much better than I have for several years. There are going to be bad days and good days as well for awhile so be prepaired. I had my surgery Oct 2nd 2013, so I'm still new to this as well. I am back to work full time and getting better all the time. Your friend will have a lot of adjustments in life, but it can be done and you still can have a good life. Be strong and keep the fath, it helps. I wish you both good luck and will pray for your friend.

Posts: 757
Joined: Apr 2012

Please get a second opinion and use a head and neck specialist or at least some one who has had a lot of experience with this type of cancer.  Something we didn't do the first time around.  When my husband was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer, we were told that radiation and chemo should do the trick.  Well to make a long story short, it didn't and he loads of trouble with the radiation and chemo.   He underwent 35 radiation and 3 chemo treatments with Cisplatin.  No he didn't lose his hair, it did thin out.  If it wasn't for the feeding tube that the doctor insisted on, he wouldn't have made it.  Radiation completely closed off the back of his throat something no one knew until he had his laryngectomy almost 6 months later when it was found out that the radiation and chemo didn't get the tumor.  Thankfully it hadn't spread.  But 13 months later he was diagnosed with a second primary at the cervical of his esophagus.  Although it is squamous cell cancer, which is the same as his laryngeal cancer and just right below where his voicebox used to be the specialist still called it a second primary.  Then it spread to his right lung.

Everyone is different in how they react to radiation and chemo.  But I will say make sure your friend stays hydrated to flush the chemo out of his kidneys something my husband didn't do.  Second time we knew better.

Not trying to scare you, but cancer is horrible and we were told going in that head and neck cancer is the worse for radiation treatment and on that the ENT and radiologist didn't lie to us.  Your friend needs to have doctors that he is comfortable with and trust.   Have him made a list of questions to ask his doctors.  We tend to forget when we are with the doctors and make notes of what the doctors say. 

Wishing the best -- Sharon

Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2013

A very Happy New Year to all CSN members, family and friends


Thanks Jamie and Sharon for your valuable inputs.


We had a second opinion with one other specialist and he felt that the current treatment should be good for now. He is in his third week now and being given Cisplatin once a week and radio for 5 days a week.


Last week his voice was very coarse and we were worried a bit. He was completely on fluid diet comprising juices, soups etc. Since yesterday his voice is getting much better, cough has reduced and he s able to take solids slowly.


One thing is that, the medics said we need to go for review only after two months. Does that mean that after this 7 week course, there wont be any scan or tests to know if the tumour has reduced or been removed?

Mikemetz's picture
Posts: 402
Joined: Nov 2011

First of all, sorry to see that your friend has joined our club--but you both have found the best place you could for advice and support from people who have lots of experience as a cancer patient or caregiver.  Next, the reason for waiting so long after radiation ends is that the treated area stays "hot" for several weeks after and then can produce false positives when read by the radiologist.  It might take 2-3 scans to get NED (No evidence of disease).  My first NED scan took nearly 6 months post-treatments to happen, even though the doctors were very confident that the rads+chemo was effective on my primary tumor.

But before you look that far ahead, stay focused on the task at hand--coping with whatever side effects he will get from the treatments.  Everyone gets some set of those, ranging from tolerable to severe.  Three weeks is just a "start" and whatever side effects he might encounter can last well beyond the end of treatments.  If he is like many of us here, he'll gradually feel worse--hit a tough low point--before he gradually starts to feel better.  The best advice I give newbies is to recognize that at this stage your biggest enemy is not cancer--it's the side effects from rads+chemo.  So, look for signs of those and deal with them right away as they surface.



MarineE5's picture
Posts: 907
Joined: Dec 2005


I apologize for not reading your post sooner. I don't have anything to add, but one thing caught my eye, your friend's age. You mentioned that he is 67, which would fall into the age group that I am in. By chance, did your friend serve in the Military during Vietnam and even serve in Vietnam? If so, his Diabetes would be linked to Agent Orange and he should file a claim with the VA. I am just posting this for your/his information.

My Best to Both of You and Everyone Here

Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2013

Thanks a lot Mike. Your comments gave us great relief and also what to expect for and be prepared.


@MarineE5, thanks for your concerns and valuable info. No he didnt serve or live in Vietnam so I am just about positive that his diabetes might be a normal one. 

debbiejeanne's picture
Posts: 3095
Joined: Jan 2010

hi and welcome to our family.  i'm glad your friend has a caring friend like you to help them thru this.  it is not an easy road to travel but many have traveled it and came out the other side.  come here ofter with questions and concers and we will gladly help you.  maybe your friend will want to get on some time.  either way, we're sorry you need to be here but glad you found the site.  praying for your friend, please keep us posted.

God bless you,


Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2013

Hi All,


Once again thanks a ton for all your support, care and useful inputs. I was off assisting my friend for a couple of weeks. 

He was initially given 7 sitting of chemo, but finally docs said 6 chemo would do. Also radio was given 35 sitting and later reduced to 30 sittings. Now that his treatment is over, we have to wait for our first scan in May.


He has started consuming solid foods - rice, boiled eggs, soups and veggies. But since he cannot take spicy items (even mild spicyness irritates his mouth) his quantity is less. Before start of treatment he was aroound 74 kgs and now he s at 67.7 kgs. Docs told for his age and height his initial 74 was overweight and that because of this treatment, its actually a side benefit that he has come to correct weight. 


Overall the treatment so far is positive, he s no longer coughing while talk or supper and also his voice is back to normal. Docs still advise him to stay indorrs, avoid travel/crowds that can cause infection. 


Keep us supported with ur prayers and until we meet with the scan results....

longtermsurvivor's picture
Posts: 1845
Joined: Mar 2010

Glad to hear things have gone so well.  Where do you live?


best to you



debbiejeanne's picture
Posts: 3095
Joined: Jan 2010

so glad tx is over and he is on his way to recovery.  sending prayers for a clean (NED) scan!

God bless you,


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