Radiation to the brain can also have side effects that show up later – usually from 6 months to many years after treatment ends. But there are often things that can be done to treat and manage them. If your weight changes, the mask used during your treatment may not fit correctly. Some effects go away after treatment; others need ongoing management and/or rehabilitation. One of the frequently encountered complications of radiation therapy for head and neck cancer is abnormally low levels of thyroid hormone, referred to as hypothyroidism. The side effects of RT for HNC are divided into early (acute) and long-term (chronic) effects [3]. There are skin camouflage products that can help reduce the difference in skin colour and the appearance of scars. Gazebo78. Surgery may affect nearby nerves and cause a change in sensation or numbness in that area. Severe Radiation Fibrosis 2. Find out about ways to manage these side effects. It can occur months or years after treatment. We help people get through cancer. Radiation therapy to the head and neck can damage blood vessels, causing bone in the lower jaw to die. After treatment, some people have problems with their body image and self-esteem. A lymphoedema specialist can help manage fluid build-up in the tissues (lymphoedema). Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, tiredness, depression, constipation, brittle nails, and pale color. Sore skin. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information. Late effects are a delayed response to treatment. People with a head and neck cancer often experience side effects. The amount of stiffness varies from person to person. Long-term impacts of head and neck radiation. These are the side effects I have endured. Side effects can happen any time during, immediately after or a few days or weeks after radiation therapy. Late side effects can happen months to years after you receive radiation therapy. You can also talk to our cancer support specialists on the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00. Tell your cancer doctor or specialist nurse about any side effects that have not gone away or if you have new symptoms. Treatment for head and neck cancer can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or a. This can develop months or years after treatment. delivered and what parts of the head and neck received radiation. Early side effects happen shortly after you receive radiation therapy. Radiotherapy or chemoradiation to the head or neck can affect your salivary glands. VAT no: 668265007. Speak to your specialist nurse about what is available in your local centre. Some of these changes may happen straight after surgery. We’ve created a new account area offering personalised cancer information and support. Sometimes long-term effects are permanent. If you feel anything new, you should contact your specialist nurse or consultant. Below is a sample of the sources used in our late effects of head and neck cancer treatment information. You will need to go to appointments less often over time. Malnutrition: Nearly all of the side effects of radiation therapy for head and neck cancer may contribute to malnutrition. As well as specialist doctors and surgeons, there are other specialists who can help. If you experience one of these symptoms, contact your primary care physician or radiation oncologist. Your cancer specialist will have told you if your hearing could be affected. 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. Available from: www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg32  (accessed September 2018). An anonymous network of people affected by cancer which is free to join. Symptoms may slowly get better over 1 or 2 years after treatment ends, or even longer. Yay!! As you recover from cancer treatment, you may need to re-learn skills, such as swallowing or speaking. Head and neck cancer includes cancer from the throat up. This will cause an eruption of teeth in an abnormal alignment (teeth may be crooked). If possible, take someone with you to your hospital appointments. This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. An SLT is a specialist who assesses problems with speech, voice and swallowing and teaches you how to manage and improve them. For instance, a radiation therapy that involves the head and neck has affects on the developing adult teeth that lie within the jawbone. If you shave, be careful around skin that is numb. 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. We are also learning more about late effects and how they can be managed. Radiotherapy to the head and neck can also cause general side effects such as tiredness and sore skin in … This can cause problems with speaking, swallowing of breathing. Radiotherapy to the head can cause hair loss in the treatment area. Unfortunately, this damage isn't isolated to cancer cells alone, and normal cells can be damaged as well. 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. 1. It can be frustrating to still have side effects. These changes may be mild and recover as tissues heal. Available from:  https://www.bahno.org.uk/_userfiles/pages/files/ukheadandcancerguidelines2016.pdf (accessed September 2018). Side effects can be mild or more severe, depending on the size of the area being treated and the length of your treatment. Some treatments can temporarily affect periods. This will cause an eruption of teeth in an abnormal alignment (teeth may be crooked). We have more information about lymphoedema, how to reduce your risk of developing it and how it is managed. The following side effects 1. We have more information about how treatment for head and neck cancer may affect the way you eat and drink, and what might help. Lymphoedema may be worse in the morning and improve as the day goes on. Nearly any treatment can cause late effects, and these late effects are specific to the treatment you received. Oral complications affect the mouth. Radiation therapy works by damaging DNA in cells. Radiotherapy to the head and neck can cause problems with your mouth or teeth, such as a sore or dry mouth, tooth decay or thrush. 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. They do not appear during treatment, but can happen months or even years later. Feeling tired and lethargic is one of the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. This may be for a few weeks or it may be long-term. Also, the doctor is likely to counsel patients to stop smoking. They often get better within a year of finishing treatment. There may also be other changes in your day-to-day life you need to adjust to. Most difficulties will improve over time. Call freephone 9 to 5 Monday to Friday or email us, Swelling in your neck or face (lymphoedema). Oral complications are common in cancer patients, especially those with head and neck cancer. This may affect the picture you have in your mind of how you look, and how you think and feel about your body (your body image). Head and Neck Cancer: United Kingdom National Multidisciplinary Guidelines. Late side effects of radiation therapy may be permanent. After having gone through the 6 months of chemo treatments, I found the radiation treatments to be non-eventful. A nurse who gives information and support on managing side effects. Read our information about coronavirus and cancer. 2015. The Macmillan Support Line offers confidential support to people living with cancer and their loved ones. How are Head and Neck Cancers Treated? 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. Dealing with these changes can take a lot of effort and determination. It is normal to have ups and downs, and there may be times when you do not feel you are making progress. Having radiotherapy to your head and neck may affect your voice during treatment and for a few weeks afterwards. Find out about support groups, where to get information and how to get involved with. These may include the following: A dentist who designs prostheses (obturators), implants and dentures to help with eating, speech and appearance. In July of that year I was declared cancer-free and just celebrated my 4th anniversary as such. Feeling extremely tired (fatigue) is one of the most common side effects of head and neck cancer treatment. 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. Early side effects occur during the course of therapy and during the immediate post therapy period (approximately 2–3 weeks after the completion of a course of RT). The side effects of radiation therapy depend on the area of the body that receives radiation. I thank God I'm Alive and that said after 14 years out Stage 3 HNC CANCERS. It is important to get to know how your neck feels after surgery for a head and neck cancer. They are usually more severe if you have radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy. Jaw stiffness can develop a few weeks or sometimes months after treatment. Most people find that this gradually improves, but occasionally it can last for months or even longer. If we do not produce enough thyroid hormones, the cells and organs in our body slow down. An occupational therapist can help with ongoing tiredness (fatigue). You may feel too exhausted to have sex during treatment and for a while afterwards. Adjusting to changes after treatment takes time. This can take up to 2 years. If you have a sore mouth, it is still important to continue with regular mouth care. Some head and neck cancer radiation long term side effects may still be easy to manage though. Doctors and researchers are trying to make sure people get the best treatment but have as few side effects as possible. Registered office: 89 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7UQ. We have more information about cognitive changes. Treatments for this category of cancers often includes either chemotherapy, radiation, or both. Some skin camouflage products can be applied to a facial prostheses to match skin tone. Radiotherapy to the head and neck often causes a sore mouth. Radiation therapy has side effects because it not only kills or slows the growth of cancer cells, it can also affect nearby healthy cells. This means that you may not make as much spit (saliva) as before and so your mouth may become dry. Search our clinical trials database for all cancer trials and studies recruiting in the UK, Questions about cancer? Your doctor can refer you for treatment for this. This could be a counsellor or members of a support group who have been through a similar experience. Some chemotherapy drugs can affect nerves and cause symptoms such as pins and needles, numbness or pain to the hands and feet. Sometimes an area that is numb can be injured without you noticing. 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 Radiation-induced fibrosis can develop as a late effect of RT in skin and subcutaneous tissue, muscles, or … Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have about a specific late effect.Problems from surgery. You may need to do things like regular mouth, jaw, throat, neck or shoulder exercises. 2006. Many treatment centres have health and well-being events for people who have had head and neck cancer. You will also need to be careful not to expose the numb area to very hot or very cold temperatures. UK Oral Management in Cancer Care Group. This usually gets better within a few weeks. Sometimes it is easier to talk to someone who is not close to you or involved in your care. This is because side effects such as pain, swelling, feeling sick and tiredness are improving. 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. ... may take years to show up and are often permanent when they do. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. Ask your care team about the side effects you might get. Others may be left with a low sex drive (libido) or have sexual difficulties as a result of the physical effects of treatment. If the nerve was cut, changes in that area will be permanent. A physiotherapist can offers treatments and exercises to help with reduced movement in the jaw, neck or shoulders and encourages safe physical activities. Find out about hair washing tips and wigs. This is called peripheral neuropathy. A dental hygienist can teach you how to keep your mouth clean and prevent tooth decay. The physical and emotional effects of cancer and its treatment may affect your sexual confidence or ability to have sex. Your specialist doctor will see you regularly in outpatient appointments. If you have numbness or a change in sensation in a part of your head or neck, take extra care to protect it. This often improves as the nerves heal. Early side effects happen shortly after you receive radiation therapy. Radiotherapy or surgery to the head and neck area can cause jaw stiffness. Below is a list of some of the more common late effects. But for some people, they last longer or may be permanent. The side effects from radiation can be lifelong issues that are sometimes life-threatening. You might have difficulty swallowing during radiotherapy to your head or neck and for several weeks afterwards. It is rare for a symptom to pop up eight to 10 years later. Hearing loss may start slowly in the first 2 years after treatment. Our Online Community is a good place to do this. It is important to talk with your health care team about any side effects you Another major side effect o… This condition may be aggravated after head and neck surgery where the neck may develop a woody texture and have limited movement. For some people, these problems continue after treatment is over. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr Chris Alcock, Consultant Clinical Oncologist. After treatment for a head and neck cancer, some people have difficulty concentrating and remembering things. Your salivary glands may gradually recover after treatment finishes, but your saliva may be thicker and sticky. According to the American Cancer Society, other common side effects and coping strategies that can be taken include: 1. Also operating in Northern Ireland. Find out more about late effects of head and neck cancer treatment and how they can be treated and managed. We have more information about the effects of treatment on the neck and shoulders and what might help. Changes to your face, mouth and neck can change how you feel about kissing and having sex. Nutrition Support for Adults: Oral Nutrition Support, Enteral Tube Feeding and Parenteral Nutrition. Controlling the pain may improve your desire to have sex. This may help them understand what you need to do for your recovery so they are in a better position to help you. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at [email protected] Long-term side effects from surgery depend on the type of cancer and where in the body you had surgery. 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. We have more information about pain and how to manage it. Radiotherapy to the head and neck can also cause general side effects such as tiredness and sore skin in the treatment area. Many people who get radiation therapy experience fatigue. Treatment for head and neck cancer is always developing and people are living for longer because of improved treatments. Surgery to the neck may cause changes in your neck and shoulders. Head and neck radiotherapy side effects. Mouth Care Guidance and Support in Cancer and Palliative Care. Learn more about possible side effects. 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. The complications may be side effects of the disease or treatment, or they may have other causes. After surgery for head and neck cancer, it is common to have some swelling in your face or neck. For the study, the researchers collected data on 1,100 patients who had radiation for head and neck cancer between 1990 and 2005. Complications are new medical problems that occur during or after a disease, procedure, or treatment and that make recovery harder. Sometimes pain is caused by lymphoedema. Most side effects generally go away within a few weeks to 2 months of finishing treatment. How much hair loss depends on the size of the area being treated and the dose of radiotherapy. Sometimes they can go on for longer, or have more of an impact on your day-to-day life. About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010. Available from: http://www.ukomic.co.uk/documents/UK_OM_Guidelines.pdf (accessed September 2018). It is important to have people around who can support you. Often periods return to normal after treatment ends but sometimes they stop permanently. You may need therapy after … It may be caused by a late effect of treatment such as a stiff jaw (trismus), scar tightness or nerve damage. • 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. Swelling of the face or neck (lymphoedema), What's going on near you? National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Among these patients, 112 were followed for at least 10 years. ORN affects around 5–7% of people who have radiation therapy to the head and neck. We have more information about cancer and your sex life. Lymphoedema can also affect tissues inside the neck, such as the throat or larynx (voicebox). Pain can happen for different reasons. © Macmillan Cancer Support, registered charity in England and Wales (261017), Scotland (SC039907) and the Isle of Man (604). Social networking sites can help you connect with people, share information, and give and get support. These hormones control all the cells in our body so that it is able to work normally. We have more information about managing tiredness. Radiotherapy to the head and neck can cause temporary side effects, such as a sore mouth or throat and difficulty swallowing. The two most commonly used terms are: Long-term effects begin during, or shortly after, treatment and do not go away in the 6 months after treatment. Having radiotherapy for head and neck cancers can cause side effects such as a sore mouth and difficulty swallowing. They may go away eventually on their own. When your treatment has finished, it is natural to want to put the cancer behind you and move forward in your life. Your saliva will also become thicker and stickier, depending on how much radiation was delivered to your salivary glands. The two most commonly used terms are: long-term effects late effects. Late effects of radiation and surgery will affect only the area of the body exposed to them. 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. Here are 5 side effects … These effects often get better over time as you recover. It is safer to use an electric razor. Survivors of Hodgkin ly… Your radiotherapy team will advise you on how to try to maintain your weight. The thyroid gland is in the front of the neck and makes hormones. This can lead to an early menopause. There are a number of things you can do to help yourself cope. Each person experiences different side effects. These help patients who are dealing with the physical and emotional late effects. In some people, radiotherapy can make the skin sore and red (similar to sunburn), darker than normal or dry and itchy. Late side effects of radiation therapy may be permanent. It is natural to feel anxious if you develop pain. Your donations make it happen. 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. You might lose weight during radiotherapy to the head and neck. Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Many people find that it gets easier to eat after treatment finishes. Many side effects of radiation therapy to your head and neck can make it hard to eat and drink. Pain can be a useful warning to protect us against injury. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2015; 33, 29 Available from: https://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/jco.2015.61.3836  (accessed September 2018). It can be treated with tablets that you take every day. If you need to talk, we'll listen. As well as your healthcare team, this may include a partner, family or friends. But like other cancer treatments, it often causes side effects. We have more information about how to cope with changes to your mouth or saliva. But you may be more likely to get infections or ulcers in your mouth. We have more information about the effects on hearing and what might help. Sometimes it may be a symptom of cancer coming back. You may lose interest in sex, feel unattractive or worry that you will never be able to be sexually active. A dietitian can help you meet your nutritional needs. A company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales company number 2400969. We know it’s a worrying time for people with cancer, we have information to help. It can also be because of: Radiotherapy for head and neck cancers can sometimes cause the thyroid gland to become underactive (hypothyroid). 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… Side effects depend on the type of cancer, its location, the radiation therapy dose, your general health, and other factors. Early side effects occur during the course of therapy and during the immediate post therapy period (approximately 2-3 weeks after the completion of a course of RT). Always tell your doctor if you have a new pain or pain that is getting worse. If long-term side effects occur, they typically develop within two to three years of treatment. We have more information about jaw problems and what can help. A psychologist or counsellor can help you adjust to changes after treatment. Changes to your lips, teeth, tongue, mouth, nose or throat can affect your speech or the sounds you make for speech (voice). This is called lymphoedema. Tom’s side effects, according to his wife, ranged from severe fatigue, an inability to swallow food along with the resulting weight loss, and even an inability to have blood drawn. Having radiotherapy for head and neck cancers can cause side effects such as a sore mouth and difficulty swallowing. This usually goes away within a few weeks. 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. Isle of Man company number 4694F. Radiation therapy treats many types of cancer effectively. Doctors call these cognitive changes (chemo brain). But some side effects may continue after treatment is over because it takes time for healthy cells to recover from the effects of radiation therapy. The side effects of radiation therapy depend on the area of the body that receives radiation. Advances in Supportive Care for Late Effects of Head and Neck Cancer. How likely treatment is to cause late effects depends on several things, including: There are things you can do to manage late effects. If you have problems with pain, this may affect your sex drive. Others may develop months afterwards. 2016. This is called osteoradionecrosis (ORN). Other side effects depend on the part of the body that is being treated. This can cause weight loss, fatigue (having less energy than usual), and dehydration. But it is important to get it checked out as soon as possible so that you can have treatment for it. Treatment for head and neck cancers can change your body. British Association of Head and Neck Oncologists. Share experiences, ask questions and talk to people who understand. These delayed effects can include serious problems such as memory loss, stroke-like symptoms, and poor brain function. If you had pain during treatment, it will usually get better as your tissues heal. Re: Your experience with side effects from head & neck cancer treatment (radiation / mucositis) 30 rads .. okay so that's 6 weeks. 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. Doctor may monitor thyroid and pituitary gland function, especially those with head and cancer. New pain or pain that is numb can be managed last for months or even longer gradually recover treatment. About lymphoedema, how to keep your mouth clean and prevent tooth decay area can cause side of... A new pain or pain to the head and neck cancer, some people problems! Support for Adults: oral Nutrition support for Adults: oral Nutrition support Enteral. 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