Lasting effects of treatment

Hey all, I was wondering what some of the lasting effects from your head/neck cancer treatment are. I know for my tongue cancer, the radiation has made my saliva basically useless so now I'm forced to drink constantly while eating just about anything. I was hoping that it would kind of just become habit after a while…but I still hate it. I've also have terrible stiffness in my neck from the partial dissection as well as muscular issues with my shoulder seeing as I wasn't prescribed physical therapy post-op. Other than that, I still have some fairly obvious speech issues from the tissue graft which I'm still trying to overcome. I also wasn't prescribed speech therapy so I didn't really know if I was supposed to get it or not. Other than that stuff though, I'm very healthy and thankful that what I've had to overcome has been relatively minor to some of the stories I've heard. Just wondering if anybody else has any input/stories to share.


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  • My side effects are minor even compared to yours - Surgery was 6 months ago, and I finished rad at the end of October. I've got a minor dry mouth (only on one side), a stiff neck, and large pieces of my face and ear are numb. The only side effect that really bugs me is that many sweets, especially chocolate and pop, don't taste good. I miss chocolate sooo bad. I've got all of my other tastes back though, so I can't really complain.

    How long have you been out of treatment?
  • I am 28 months out of treatment. I guess I knew there would be long term side effects.....but I still hate them just the same :)
  • I found a chiropractor for my back/shoulder/neck pain and they have worked wonders. In the summer I, finally, was able to stop pain meds. I felt/feel so much better.

    They still on sure what is causing the pain, but massage/chiropractor, is the best medicine for me. I had a bone transplant on my right leg and everyone assumed it was that causing my back issues, but now they are checking into arthritis. Physical therapy did not work and it got to the point where pain meds were not working. Luckily I found a great group who is helping with the financial issues(expenses) of seeing a chiropractor or I don't know what I would do.

    Best of luck!
  • I may start seeing a chiropractor soon and see if it helps any. I just got some good info from a friend who had tongue cancer as well on some stretches and exercises that are specifically for the neck/jaw/tongue. I'm working on those right now but my shoulder still gives me trouble. My wife has been seeing a chiropractor on and off for a couple years because of a back injury from a car accident and she's been really pleased with the overall results.
  • i will have permanent effects from my surgery and treatment. I had to get surgery on my right saliva gland since that is where my cancer was. They removed the whole right gland and in doing so my whole right facial nerve is gone, so I have no movement on that side of my face. Along with no movement, I do not hear out of my right ear because the tumor was invasive on the ear canal. Those are from complications form surgery. Now, from treatment, I cannot grow facial hair on the right side of my face, no biggie. My mouth though is constantly dry. I only have one saliva gland now, so I need so always drink water or chew some special gum.

    This has been a year and half now, so I am getting used to all these things. The biggest thing to get used to is the dry mouth. That is the worst. Food gets caught in my mouth all the time. ITs just the absolute worst.
  • I'm with you Matt on the lack of saliva BS. It sucks. Radiation robbed me of mine for the most part. You wont find me w/o water in my hand.
  • NikolzNikolz Community Member
    Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I thought I would add my experience here. I had similar treatment. (partial glosectomy, forearm free flap, neck disection,.....and radiation) I have a definate shortage of saliva, and cannot eat without drinking, To this day there are foods I avoid. My speach is understandable, but noticably impeded, certain sounds or combination of sounds are difficult. I also tried speech therapy and a palatial augmentation device, but it only took me so far. Glad to see its not just me.

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