• Radiation effects on the esophagus

    Asked by staci3 on Monday, November 21, 2011

    Radiation effects on the esophagus

    My Dad has recently been diagnosed with stage IIIA lung cancer after having successful surgery for lung cancer in 2006. His cancer is in a lymph node next to the trachea and esophagus. The radiation oncologist told us that the radiation would cause his esophagus to shrink making it easier to choke on food and he would eventually feel like he's swallowing pins and needles everytime he swallows. Has anyone experienced this? How bad should we expect it to be? The doctor also told him they might have to "stretch" his esophagus after treatment is finished:(

    4 Answers from the Community

    4 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I have most recently had Head and Neck Cancer, a tonsil was malignant. I had radiation on my face, neck and chest area. I now have trouble swallowing, yes there is some pain, I wouldn't describe it as pins and needles. I had to learn how to swallow to get things down. It's kind of like the food goes past the back of my mouth and hits a platform, then I have to grunt, or make noises and help squeeze it on down. It's been 2.5 years since I was done with treatment and it is getting better. Foods that have a good "slide" factor are needed, soups, caseroles, etc.

      Each person is different, the treatments are different even though it's still radiation, his will be different than mine, his cancer is different, so his results will vary. Don't put a dire picture on the situation until it's there, but expect to have some difficulty.

      Good luck to your Dad!!

      over 9 years ago
    • staci3's Avatar

      Thank you for the information drummerboy!

      over 9 years ago
    • retro1931's Avatar

      I have lung cancer and had to quit the radiation as it burned my esophagus after three weeks. I had to be put on PTN through an IV for nutrition and it took about a month before I was able to swallow without the pain and eat again.

      almost 9 years ago
    • shhwee's Avatar

      I have Brain cancer but they treat the whole spine as well as the brain, so I had this issue as well.

      His doctor was right about the pin feeling when swallowing. The pain was horrible... I did find though that bread-like foods and milk were the only things that didn't feel like acid going down. During that time I ate tons of plain popcorn and mashed potatoes!

      Now, almost a year out of radiation I'm able to eat anything I want and have no pain. Best of luck!!!

      almost 9 years ago

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