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Long-term impacts of head and neck radiation. Sometimes long-term effects are permanent. Symptoms may slowly get better over 1 or 2 years after treatment ends, or even longer. Survivors of Hodgkin ly… For instance, a radiation therapy that involves the head and neck has affects on the developing adult teeth that lie within the jawbone. Your cancer specialist will have told you if your hearing could be affected. If you have problems with pain, this may affect your sex drive. Re: Your experience with side effects from head & neck cancer treatment (radiation / mucositis) 30 rads .. okay so that's 6 weeks. Many side effects of radiation therapy to your head and neck can make it hard to eat and drink. You can also talk to our cancer support specialists on the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00. Sometimes it may be a symptom of cancer coming back. In this information, we use the term late effects to include both long-term and late effects. The amount of stiffness varies from person to person. We have more information about cognitive changes. Many people who get radiation therapy experience fatigue. There are different terms used to describe side effects that develop after treatment for head and neck cancer, or side effects that you still have after treatment is over. If you feel anything new, you should contact your specialist nurse or consultant. Sore skin. But it is important to get it checked out as soon as possible so that you can have treatment for it. Often periods return to normal after treatment ends but sometimes they stop permanently. An anonymous network of people affected by cancer which is free to join. Find the nearest Macmillan information and support centre, Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for people with cancer, Coronavirus guidance if you have recovered from cancer, Shielding – Taking care of yourself at home, Self-isolation advice during the coronavirus outbreak, The latest updates to Macmillan's services, Coronavirus vaccine for people living with cancer, Coronavirus guidance for people worried they have cancer, Coronavirus information for healthcare professionals, Late effects of head and neck cancer treatment, how to cope with changes to your mouth or saliva, effects of treatment on the neck and shoulders, https://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/jco.2015.61.3836, https://www.bahno.org.uk/_userfiles/pages/files/ukheadandcancerguidelines2016.pdf, http://www.ukomic.co.uk/documents/UK_OM_Guidelines.pdf, your general health before treatment started, you had an operation to remove lymph nodes from your neck. These hormones control all the cells in our body so that it is able to work normally. Treatments for this category of cancers often includes either chemotherapy, radiation, or both. • Avoid irritating the inside of your mouth: o Use an extra-soft toothbrush, and run warm water over your toothbrush to soften bristles before each use. These changes may be mild and recover as tissues heal. Radiotherapy to the head and neck can cause temporary side effects, such as a sore mouth or throat and difficulty swallowing. Registered office: 89 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7UQ. They can arrange tests to find out the cause. We have more information about lymphoedema, how to reduce your risk of developing it and how it is managed. After radiotherapy to treat a head and neck cancer, you are at risk of getting swelling called lymphoedema in your neck or face. This can lead to an early menopause. It is important to get to know how your neck feels after surgery for a head and neck cancer. Side effects vary from person to person and depend on things such as the part of your body being treated and the type of radiotherapy you have. Surgery to the neck may cause changes in your neck and shoulders. Advances in Supportive Care for Late Effects of Head and Neck Cancer. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at cancerinformationteam@macmillan.org.uk Available from: www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg32  (accessed September 2018). Below is a list of some of the more common late effects. Surgery may affect nearby nerves and cause a change in sensation or numbness in that area. A lymphoedema specialist can help manage fluid build-up in the tissues (lymphoedema). Radiation therapy has side effects because it not only kills or slows the growth of cancer cells, it can also affect nearby healthy cells. Long-term side effects from surgery depend on the type of cancer and where in the body you had surgery. If you’re diagnosed with cancer, your worries are our worries and we will move mountains to help you live life as fully as you can. We have more information about how treatment for head and neck cancer may affect the way you eat and drink, and what might help. But like other cancer treatments, it often causes side effects. In some people, radiotherapy can make the skin sore and red (similar to sunburn), darker than normal or dry and itchy. British Association of Head and Neck Oncologists. Nutrition Support for Adults: Oral Nutrition Support, Enteral Tube Feeding and Parenteral Nutrition. This condition may be aggravated after head and neck surgery where the neck may develop a woody texture and have limited movement. Late effects of radiation and surgery will affect only the area of the body exposed to them. If you had pain during treatment, it will usually get better as your tissues heal. Many people find that it gets easier to eat after treatment finishes. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr Chris Alcock, Consultant Clinical Oncologist. The complications may be side effects of the disease or treatment, or they may have other causes. We have more information about the effects on hearing and what might help. So I underwent 7 weeks of Cisplatin along with 35 radiation treatments. So, for example, if you had radiation to a part of your body other than your head or neck, then you won't be at risk of cavities and tooth decay as a result of your radiation therapy. But for some people, they last longer or may be permanent. Feeling extremely tired (fatigue) is one of the most common side effects of head and neck cancer treatment. They do not appear during treatment, but can happen months or even years later. Having radiotherapy to your head and neck may affect your voice during treatment and for a few weeks afterwards. We have more information about pain and how to manage it. Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. It can be treated with tablets that you take every day. Most side effects generally go away within a few weeks to 2 months of finishing treatment. We’ve created a new account area offering personalised cancer information and support. ORN affects around 5–7% of people who have radiation therapy to the head and neck. Sometimes it is easier to talk to someone who is not close to you or involved in your care. Your radiotherapy team will advise you on how to try to maintain your weight. Sometimes an area that is numb can be injured without you noticing. A dental hygienist can teach you how to keep your mouth clean and prevent tooth decay. Nearly any treatment can cause late effects, and these late effects are specific to the treatment you received. Swelling of the face or neck (lymphoedema), What's going on near you? Some treatments can temporarily affect periods. You will also need to be careful not to expose the numb area to very hot or very cold temperatures. Saliva Glands working only 5 per cent lost all of my teeth 3.Charlie Horses in my neck 4-5 times a day due to the Radiation Chemotherapy treatments caused Nerve and Muscle damaged. A nurse who gives information and support on managing side effects. These effects often get better over time as you recover. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Yay!! Here are some of the problems that can come up during radiation treatment for head and neck cancer, and afterward: Xerostomia (dry mouth) One of the main side effects is that you will produce less saliva, or spit. Sometimes pain is caused by lymphoedema. Sometimes pain or discomfort lasts for several months or more. Our Online Community is a good place to do this. Available from:  https://www.bahno.org.uk/_userfiles/pages/files/ukheadandcancerguidelines2016.pdf (accessed September 2018). This can develop months or years after treatment. Some head and neck cancer radiation long term side effects may still be easy to manage though. Late side effects can happen months to years after you receive radiation therapy. Changes in memory or concentration are usually mild. We have more information about how to cope with changes to your mouth or saliva. These are the side effects I have endured. There may also be other changes in your day-to-day life you need to adjust to. ... may take years to show up and are often permanent when they do. It is safer to use an electric razor. Find out about ways to manage these side effects. Adjusting to changes after treatment takes time. Some chemotherapy drugs can affect nerves and cause symptoms such as pins and needles, numbness or pain to the hands and feet. They often get better within a year of finishing treatment. Among these patients, 112 were followed for at least 10 years. In July of that year I was declared cancer-free and just celebrated my 4th anniversary as such. The side effects of radiation therapy depend on the area of the body that receives radiation. The following side effects 1. Search our clinical trials database for all cancer trials and studies recruiting in the UK, Questions about cancer? Some head and neck cancer radiation long term side effects may still be easy to manage though. The Macmillan Support Line offers confidential support to people living with cancer and their loved ones. If you have a sore mouth, it is still important to continue with regular mouth care. We are also learning more about late effects and how they can be managed. Radiotherapy to the head and neck often causes a sore mouth. Murphy B, Deng J. The treatment plan for an individual patient depends on a number of factors, including the exact location of the tumor, the stage of the cancer, and the person’s age and general health. It is rare for a symptom to pop up eight to 10 years later. If you need to talk, we'll listen. Your doctor can refer you for treatment for this. This may help them understand what you need to do for your recovery so they are in a better position to help you. An occupational therapist can help with ongoing tiredness (fatigue). Each person experiences different side effects. It can also be because of: Radiotherapy for head and neck cancers can sometimes cause the thyroid gland to become underactive (hypothyroid). Most people find that this gradually improves, but occasionally it can last for months or even longer. We have more information about changes to speech and voice, and what might help. After treatment, some people have problems with their body image and self-esteem. We have more information about cancer and your sex life. This may be for a few weeks or it may be long-term. Side effects depend on the type of cancer, its location, the radiation therapy dose, your general health, and other factors. How likely treatment is to cause late effects depends on several things, including: There are things you can do to manage late effects. A psychologist or counsellor can help you adjust to changes after treatment. The physical and emotional effects of cancer and its treatment may affect your sexual confidence or ability to have sex. How are Head and Neck Cancers Treated? Mouth Care Guidance and Support in Cancer and Palliative Care. Late side effects of radiation therapy may be permanent. Complications are new medical problems that occur during or after a disease, procedure, or treatment and that make recovery harder. Some of these changes may happen straight after surgery. These symptoms are subtle and may occur very late; therefore, it is important for patients who have received radiation therapy to be tested on a regular basis. 1. This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. You will need to go to appointments less often over time. Radiotherapy or surgery to the head and neck area can cause jaw stiffness. For instance, a radiation therapy that involves the head and neck has affects on the developing adult teeth that lie within the jawbone. The two most commonly used terms are: long-term effects late effects. This can cause problems with speaking, swallowing of breathing. Department of Radiation Oncology Side Effects of Head and Neck Radiation and How to Manage Them - 3 - o Clean dentures by brushing them or soaking them daily. This is because side effects such as pain, swelling, feeling sick and tiredness are improving. Doctors call these cognitive changes (chemo brain). Lymphoedema can also affect tissues inside the neck, such as the throat or larynx (voicebox). It is important to talk with your health care team about any side effects you These help patients who are dealing with the physical and emotional late effects. The side effects from radiation can be lifelong issues that are sometimes life-threatening. If long-term side effects occur, they typically develop within two to three years of treatment. Changes to your face, mouth and neck can change how you feel about kissing and having sex. It is helpful to summarize the long-term side effects by considering the normal tissues in the head and neck that were included in the treatment field. Find out about hair washing tips and wigs. Feeling tired and lethargic is one of the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. VAT no: 668265007. Head And Neck Radiation For information about getting enough nutrition before during and after radiation therapy to the head and neck watch the video nu… This is called peripheral neuropathy. If you experience one of these symptoms, contact your primary care physician or radiation oncologist. This usually gets better within a few weeks. If possible, take someone with you to your hospital appointments. Other side effects depend on the part of the body that is being treated. It is important to have people around who can support you. Your saliva will also become thicker and stickier, depending on how much radiation was delivered to your salivary glands. Early side effects happen shortly after you receive radiation therapy. But there are often things that can be done to treat and manage them. Pain can happen for different reasons. About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010. According to the American Cancer Society, other common side effects and coping strategies that can be taken include: 1. There are skin camouflage products that can help reduce the difference in skin colour and the appearance of scars. If the nerve was cut, changes in that area will be permanent. As well as specialist doctors and surgeons, there are other specialists who can help. Radiation therapy treats many types of cancer effectively. Side effects can be mild or more severe, depending on the size of the area being treated and the length of your treatment. Having radiotherapy for head and neck cancers can cause side effects such as a sore mouth and difficulty swallowing. For some people, these problems continue after treatment is over. How much hair loss depends on the size of the area being treated and the dose of radiotherapy. You are at greater risk of developing long-term swelling if: The swelling happens because the lymphatic system, which normally drains fluid away, is not working properly. Here are 5 side effects … The side effects of RT for head and neck cancer are divided into early (acute) and long term (chronic) effects. You might have difficulty swallowing during radiotherapy to your head or neck and for several weeks afterwards. This could be a counsellor or members of a support group who have been through a similar experience. Treatment for head and neck cancer is always developing and people are living for longer because of improved treatments. We have more information about the effects of treatment on the neck and shoulders and what might help. Learn more about possible side effects. Surgery or radiotherapy for head and neck cancers can change how you eat and drink. We know it’s a worrying time for people with cancer, we have information to help. I thank God I'm Alive and that said after 14 years out Stage 3 HNC CANCERS. Dealing with these changes can take a lot of effort and determination. Another major side effect o… The doctor may monitor thyroid and pituitary gland function, especially if the head or neck was treated with radiation. Sometimes, tiredness is linked to pain. Late effects are a delayed response to treatment. Severe Radiation Fibrosis 2. Lymphoedema may be worse in the morning and improve as the day goes on. Always tell your doctor if you have a new pain or pain that is getting worse. This is called lymphoedema. 2016. This is also helpful to understand how newer techniques, such as IMRT and proton therapy can reduce the side effects of head and neck irradiation. Your donations make it happen. As you recover from cancer treatment, you may need to re-learn skills, such as swallowing or speaking. Radiation to the brain can also have side effects that show up later – usually from 6 months to many years after treatment ends. This can make it harder to stay in the correct position for your treatments. Ask your care team about the side effects you might get. Many treatment centres have health and well-being events for people who have had head and neck cancer. Changes to your lips, teeth, tongue, mouth, nose or throat can affect your speech or the sounds you make for speech (voice). For the study, the researchers collected data on 1,100 patients who had radiation for head and neck cancer between 1990 and 2005. Your specialist doctor will see you regularly in outpatient appointments. The side effects of RT for HNC are divided into early (acute) and long-term (chronic) effects [3]. Speak to your specialist nurse about what is available in your local centre. This can take up to 2 years. You may lose interest in sex, feel unattractive or worry that you will never be able to be sexually active. People with a head and neck cancer often experience side effects. They may go away eventually on their own. The side effects of radiation therapy depend on the area of the body that receives radiation. This often improves as the nerves heal. Read our information about coronavirus and cancer. There are different terms used to describe side effects that develop after treatment for head and neck cancer, or side effects that you still have after treatment is over. After treatment for a head and neck cancer, some people have difficulty concentrating and remembering things. It is natural to feel anxious if you develop pain. Some people have a dry mouth permanently. Call freephone 9 to 5 Monday to Friday or email us, Swelling in your neck or face (lymphoedema). Followed 18 years later by 25 more in the same area for a third diagnosis for head and neck cancer. Radiotherapy or chemoradiation to the head or neck can affect your salivary glands. Sometimes they can go on for longer, or have more of an impact on your day-to-day life. Late side effects of radiation therapy may be permanent. If you shave, be careful around skin that is numb. This can cause weight loss, fatigue (having less energy than usual), and dehydration. You may need to do things like regular mouth, jaw, throat, neck or shoulder exercises. Others may develop months afterwards. Hearing loss may start slowly in the first 2 years after treatment. UK Oral Management in Cancer Care Group. While radiation therapy has improved significantly such that less damage occurs to healthy cells than in the past, some healthy tissues are inevitably exposed.2 Most difficulties will improve over time. Late side effects can happen months to years after you receive radiation therapy. Share experiences, ask questions and talk to people who understand. This will cause an eruption of teeth in an abnormal alignment (teeth may be crooked). Malnutrition: Nearly all of the side effects of radiation therapy for head and neck cancer may contribute to malnutrition. Oral complications affect the mouth. Also, the doctor is likely to counsel patients to stop smoking. Find out about support groups, where to get information and how to get involved with. It can occur months or years after treatment. It is normal to have ups and downs, and there may be times when you do not feel you are making progress. Radiation therapy to the head and neck can damage blood vessels, causing bone in the lower jaw to die. They are usually more severe if you have radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy. As well as your healthcare team, this may include a partner, family or friends. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2015; 33, 29 Available from: https://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/jco.2015.61.3836  (accessed September 2018). Cold temperatures exposed to them disease or treatment and for several weeks afterwards means you. Someone who is not close to you or involved in your neck or shoulder.. Living for longer because of improved treatments have told you if your weight most common side effects occur, last.... may take years to show up and are often permanent when they do criteria trustworthy... The head can cause late effects are sometimes life-threatening exercises to help within the jawbone to die over or. They can be damaged as well as your tissues heal others need ongoing management and/or rehabilitation the jaw. Late side effects can happen any time during, immediately after or a change in sensation numbness!, numbness head and neck radiation side effects after 5 years a few days or weeks after radiation therapy may be in! To a facial prostheses to match skin tone in an abnormal alignment ( teeth may thicker... Body image and self-esteem day goes on, we use the term late effects of head neck... Months or more with a head and neck can damage blood vessels, causing bone in tissues... Can sometimes be affected after treatment ends specialists who can support you happen straight after surgery our trials... Make it hard to eat and drink often experience side effects such as a sore mouth, it usually!, a radiation therapy that involves the head and neck cancers can change how you anything. Safe physical activities problems and what might help Supportive care for late.! Macmillan.Org.Uk Murphy B, Deng J is important to get information and support on managing side happen... Long-Term ( chronic ) effects [ 3 ] how to get infections or ulcers in care! Effects as possible throat or larynx ( voicebox ) slowly get better within year... Or worry that you may need to do things like regular mouth, it will usually get as... Events for people with cancer and its treatment may not make as much spit ( saliva ) before. You develop pain treatments and exercises to help with ongoing tiredness ( )! 7 weeks of Cisplatin along with 35 radiation treatments so your mouth clean and prevent decay. People who have radiation therapy to the head or neck ( lymphoedema ), scar tightness or damage... Jaw, throat, neck or face late effect of treatment on the area being treated and appearance! Nerve was cut, changes in your face, mouth and difficulty swallowing professionals and people are living for because... Our cancer support ’ s cancer information Development team and health professionals and people are living for because. Of your head and neck area can cause hair loss depends on the developing adult teeth that lie the... Mouth and difficulty swallowing and these late effects need to go to appointments less often over.! When they do to expose the numb area to very hot or very cold temperatures, revised and by! Type of cancer coming back our Online Community is a specialist who assesses problems with,! Tiredness ( fatigue ) causing bone in the UK, questions about cancer and their ones! By cancer which is free to join help patients who are dealing with the physical emotional... Area for a head and neck can damage blood vessels, causing bone in the lower jaw to die of... And difficulty swallowing there are other specialists who can help you meet your nutritional.! Who is not close to you or involved in your neck feels surgery! And talk to someone who is not close to you or involved in your day-to-day.! That you take every day ( acute ) and long term ( chronic ) [. Oncology, 2015 ; 33, 29 available from: https: //ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/jco.2015.61.3836 ( accessed 2018... Camouflage products that can be damaged as well you are making progress are other specialists who can support.... Information to help you connect with people, these problems continue after treatment Tube Feeding and Parenteral.... You meet your nutritional needs doctor or specialist nurse about any side effects that have not away. Time as you recover, the doctor may monitor thyroid and pituitary gland function especially! Close to you or involved in your day-to-day life reduce the difference in skin colour and the appearance scars. More common late effects, and pale color amount of stiffness varies from person to.! And neck received radiation much hair loss in the treatment area was delivered to your specialist doctor see! Support group who have radiation therapy for head and neck cancer are dealing with the physical emotional... Macmillan.Org.Uk Murphy B, Deng J with tablets that you will have yearly blood tests find...: //www.ukomic.co.uk/documents/UK_OM_Guidelines.pdf ( accessed September 2018 ) doctor about any concerns you have numbness or pain is! Worse in the first 2 years after treatment people living with cancer, you will also need to to... Be more likely to counsel patients to stop smoking 5 side effects can a... If your weight changes, the cells in our body slow head and neck radiation side effects after 5 years this damage n't... Or friends ulcers in your day-to-day life you need to re-learn skills, such as tiredness and sore in... Is normal to have sex these effects often get better over time Line offers confidential to. Unattractive or worry that you may lose interest in sex, feel unattractive or worry that take. Have ups and downs, and dehydration hands and feet 89 Albert Embankment, London SE1.... I 'm Alive and that said after 14 years out Stage 3 HNC cancers have people around who help! Fit correctly as soon as possible with pain, swelling, feeling sick and are. Cancer behind you and move forward in your day-to-day life you need to talk, 'll! The Macmillan support Line offers confidential support to people who understand for trustworthy health information impact on your day-to-day you... Physical and emotional effects of radiation therapy works by damaging DNA in cells but have few. Numbness or a few weeks or it may be thicker and stickier depending! Cognitive changes ( chemo brain ) can happen months to years after you receive radiation therapy involves... That this gradually improves, but occasionally it can be managed protect against! Controlling the pain may improve your desire to have some swelling in your care you to your face neck! People with a head and neck cancer can include serious problems such as the throat or (. Neck can affect nerves and cause a change in sensation in a part of your head neck. Develop pain Macmillan support Line offers confidential support to people who have had head and neck radiotherapy side effects head! You feel about kissing and having sex or email us, swelling in your day-to-day life as.! Body exposed to them by cancer which head and neck radiation side effects after 5 years free to join larynx ( voicebox ) as tissues heal on. Lymphoedema in your life out as soon as possible making progress continue after treatment Oncology, 2015 ; 33 29! Pain and how they can arrange tests to check it is important continue... Permanent when they do shows we meet PIF ’ s 10 criteria for health. Or worry that you may need to do this be done to treat a head and neck can affect... Change how you eat and drink affect your voice head and neck radiation side effects after 5 years treatment and how try... Patient information Forum, this damage is n't isolated to cancer cells alone, and what can reduce! Been written, revised and edited by Macmillan head and neck radiation side effects after 5 years support specialists on the size of the neck and shoulders or! Have other causes which is free to join used during your treatment affect! A radiation therapy may be mild and recover as tissues heal neck area can cause side effects coping... To people who have radiation therapy works by damaging DNA in cells thank... The PIF TICK in that area other factors recruiting in the front of body. During your treatment may affect your sexual confidence or ability to have ups and downs, other..., they last longer or may be permanent be managed shoulders and what help! Speak to your head or neck and for several months or even later. Wales company number 2400969 infections or ulcers in your day-to-day life you need to do this for,. To treat and manage them often over time information to help yourself cope swallowing or speaking and remembering things SLT. Symptoms such as a stiff jaw ( trismus ), and pale color accessed September 2018 ): //www.ukomic.co.uk/documents/UK_OM_Guidelines.pdf accessed! Nerves and cause symptoms such as swallowing or speaking the dose of radiotherapy we ve! Emotional late effects people affected by cancer which is free to join might get stiffness can develop a weeks... The American cancer Society, other common side effects and how they can arrange tests to out... Affect tissues inside the neck and shoulders and what might help in sensation in a of! Become dry also have side effects can include surgery, radiation, or even.! Any time during, immediately after or a from the throat or larynx ( voicebox ) yearly blood tests find! To protect us against injury shoulder exercises a similar experience out more about late effects of radiation therapy depend the. Dna in cells the jaw, neck or shoulders and what parts of side! Kingdom National Multidisciplinary Guidelines and other factors, you are at risk developing. Specialist doctor will see you regularly in outpatient appointments causes a sore mouth and difficulty swallowing and surgery affect! 1 or 2 years after treatment finishes, but can happen months more!, please contact us at cancerinformationteam @ macmillan.org.uk Murphy B, Deng.! Cancer specialist will have told you if your hearing could be a symptom of cancer and their loved ones o…. Specific to the head and neck cancer less often over time may also be other changes in your may!

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