Monday, July 9, 2012

Cancer in Tonsil Surgery/Radiation

I had tonsil and lymphnode cancer. Had surgery with tonsil then radiation/chemo treatment for lymphnode and tonsil. This was over a year ago. I'm now cancer free. My problem is I can't swallow food or liquid as it causes me to aspirate. I have had 5 swallow tests and failed. I'm on the PEG for all nutrition and liquid. I have worked with speech therapists for over 1 year. I am now doing vital stim treatments for over a year with no progress. Is there any thing you can recommend I do?
Thank you for any help you can provide.

Barbara P. Messing, M.A., CCC-SLP, BRS-S replies...

Sorry to hear you are having ongoing swallowing problems following your cancer treatments.  It's not possible to provide you with specific recommendations.  I would say that if the vital stim treatments have been ongoing for a year without improvement that perhaps vital stim is not helping your swallowing problems. 

I assume you have specific swallowing exercises that you are doing daily.  Are you doing them consistently?

Are you continuing to have active swallowing therapy?  Are there specific compensatory swallow strategies that were recommended?

When you say you have had swallowing tests - do you mean modified barium swallow studies? 
Best recommendation is for you to discuss your present status with your speech pathologist.  Sometimes getting reassessed by another speech pathologist is helpful.  We often do that for a second opinion and a fresh approach.

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