Chest & neck radiation side effect

Portal Forums Radiation Oncology Chest Radiation Chest & neck radiation side effect

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March 15, 2014 at 6:37 am  #1262781    


I’ve had 9 treatments of radiation to my chest and also including a node in my neck. Everything was fine. I’m not getting a high dose. It’s so low, that they don’t even think I’d need any cream for my skin.

Suddenly, last evening, I started to feel like something was stuck in my esophagus. As if I’d swallowed something too large and it got stuck. This feeling has gotten worse this morning, and all day I’ve had to be very very careful not to swallow a normal amount of food or liquid or it hurts terribly.

My last treatment, there was some sort of problem and the had to readjust me quite a bit.

Right now I’m on a weekend 3 day break (one day due to machine maintenance) and then I’ll go back for 3 more treatments.

What I’d like to know is if this ‘lump’ in my chest, this horrible feeling of a blockage, and that nothing will go down without pain, and that I can’t even bring up any wind (burp) is a normal side effect? Any chance it will get better, feel better, over this 3 day break, and will it come back during my last 3 treatments this coming week? I dread going through the week with this pain.

Any suggestions?

I’m really so uncomfortable and often in pain and would love some advice if there is anything I can do to minimize this and make it go away or at least feel less uncomfortable.

March 15, 2014 at 7:39 am  #1262782    
JimC Forum Moderator
JimC Forum Moderator

It certainly sounds like esophagitis caused by radiation. You can read Dr. Mehta’s post on esophagitis here: As he says:

“Radiation esophagitis or chemo/radiation esophagitis is a frequent complication of treatment. It can be managed during treatment and it gradually gets better after treatment. It is important to communicate to your treating physicians these sorts of symptoms so that they can give appropriate medications that can make you feel better.”

Dr. Weiss added:

“Some of my patients have found that swallowing a shot of olive oil right before the radiation every day helps (thank you, Dr. Harry Quon for that trick!). Also, there are variety of magic mouthwash rinses containing lidocaine that you can swish and swallow to numb the esophagus before eating.”

Others have suggested 2 tablespoons of olive oil 3x/day and avoiding acidic, salty or other harsh food and drink.

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March 15, 2014 at 9:12 am  #1262788    
Dr West
Dr West

The only other thing I’d add is that radiation esophagitis does tend to improve rapidly, typically within days to a week or two after completion of radiation.

Good luck.

-Dr. West

March 17, 2014 at 9:02 am  #1262818    


Question, should the Esophogitis improve or can it be perminent? Lorrie

March 17, 2014 at 11:37 am  #1262821    
catdander forum moderator
catdander forum moderator

To the question, “Query-will radiation, as it involves a node near supraclavicle and mediastum cause a tightening feeling when trying to swallow due to eshpagous inflammation?”
Dr. West replied, “It’s possible, either from inflammation at the tail end of radiation or from scarring/fibrosis in the weeks to months after the radiation has been completed.”

And as always anything can happen with cancer and cancer treatment. I hope you’re not having problems.

March 17, 2014 at 6:08 pm  #1262826    
Dr West
Dr West

Yes, esophagitis doesn’t persist indefinitely but can lead to permanent fibrosis, which can be associated with permanent problems with swallowing. Fortunately, that’s rare.

-Dr. West

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