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oesophageal or voice box cancer - has anyone got any experience of this?

(23 Posts)
letsgostrawberrypicking Tue 14-Jul-09 22:17:18

Would appreciate anyone's experience of this.

Bit of background - dh had cancer last year in the neck. Had surgery and intensive RT finished last year.

Now has a persistant cough again, mainly when he changes atmospheres e.g. from house to the car. He feels like there is something in the base of his throat in last couple of weeks. Is this where oesophageal cancer is likely to start? Has appt for next week, but whenever he has said things to surgeon in past (sore throat/slight ear pain) it has, if not been dismissed as surgeon is BRILL) then just put down to after effects of RT.

I am obviously very worried, and wanting to prepare myself for what it could be. Therefore, even if the end result wasnt good, do you have any experience of it and how it started/symptons etc.

Thanks xx

scoutliam Tue 14-Jul-09 22:26:05

Hi, sorry to hear about your dad.
Head and neck cancers are particularly awful to suffer from as the treatment is so harsh and unfortunately the radiotherapy can often leave life long side effects in particular with saliva production could his current cough have anything to do with him having a dry throat?
Oesophageal cancer can present in lots of different ways but cough is not one of the first things you would worry about. Is there any reason to suspect a new tumor or are you just thinking the worst case scenario ?

blondie09 Tue 14-Jul-09 22:59:08

yes my mum had it in 2005, sadly she passed away last year (not due to oesophageal cancer though).

I was only 15 at the time, and my mum kept much of it from me but from what I know it started with her eating, she had the feeling of not being able to swallow, thats the best i can describe it, which at its worst she was unable to swallow her own saliva. (sorry if tmi)

she had the usual, chemo, radiotherapy and ended in an operation which was the only way to cure it completley, can't remember what it was called but can give you some detail if you want.

i hope your dh is ok.

letsgostrawberrypicking Tue 14-Jul-09 23:02:53

Hi scoutliam, thanks for your answer.
There is no other reason to expect a new tumour I expect other than his feeling of something being in there. Hard to explain really. It could be just an infection. He is always drinking so his loss of saliva glands hasnt before given him a cough as he keeps his mouth/throat well lubricated.

I am thinking worse case scenario you are right. I would rather that and then be told it's nothing than to think it's nothing and be told otherwise!!!

When dh had his original endoscopy there was a suspect thing on his voice box which was never looked into really well, and I think it was hoped the RT killed whatever it was there, that's why I am thinking maybe it is that coming out. Hope this makes sense - I seem to be waffling sorry!

letsgostrawberrypicking Tue 14-Jul-09 23:06:43

Thank you blondie, am so sorry you have lost your mum sad and you are so young if you were only 15 in 2005 xx
I would really appreciate knowing what the op was thank you, just in case

blondie09 Tue 14-Jul-09 23:15:47

i'm 20 now, sorry i think it was 2004/2005.

i think the op was that she had the affected part of the oesophagus removed and i think her stomach was made into a new one. im sorry if this is not correct, as i mentioned before i was not told an awful lot.

the macmillan website has a lot of information, and also if necessary the oesophageal patients association is very helpful, my mum was a member of this and went to the meetings they had where people spoke and you could meet other will similar situations.

i hope this helps, best wishes x

scoutliam Tue 14-Jul-09 23:19:31

So sorry for saying your dad! Must learn not to speed read.
It'd be odd if you didn't expect the worst after all you've been through.
Persistant cough is always worth checking out but hopefully easily explained.
When is his next follow up appointment? Can you ring for an earlier one if it's a way off? Alternatively do you have a link nurse to contact?
You need to set your mind at rest about this so you can both start to relax.
Write down your questions such as was the suspect lesion on his voice box identified and or removed during his surgery?
Which is likely and nobody thought to explain it at the time. Hospital teams always assume somebody has explained everything but never take the time to do it themselves.

letsgostrawberrypicking Wed 15-Jul-09 08:24:00

Thanks so much for all that info Blondie and Scoutliam it is really helpful xx

ButterbeerAndLemon Wed 15-Jul-09 08:44:19

I know MummyDoIt's DH died from oesophageal cancer last year. IIRC he had ignored the symptoms for years so that it was incurable by the time it was diagnosed. I believe his started with bad heartburn/acid reflux and then he started to lose lots of weight.

Iworryalot Wed 15-Jul-09 12:03:41

Hello all , I'm scared I may have something similar going on ... Have this pain started after I ate my food to fast Monday pm , then was in pain under where bra sits kind if and right bottom of middle breast bone just about where it ends and stomach sits , dull pain all day yesterday .. Called gp spoke to receptionist as I was worried I was having heart attack... She said it sounds like heart burn , sensative esofogus ... Not to worry ... But I googled and Reading this thread very worried I may have same thing ? I can eat and swallow , pain still there a bit today not quite so bad ... I suffer with HA to & IBS ... Worried now , any advice ... Thanks

letsgostrawberrypicking Wed 15-Jul-09 12:19:02

Thanks Butterbeer, I followed mummydoit's thread last year but couldnt remember what cancer it was her dh had. She was/is so amazingly brave - her boys ages are similar to mine. It's so awful so many youngish people get these cancers.

Dh was told he was just "unlucky" to get his as he never smokes and doesnt drink much and is not in any kind of high risk group. That's why i am preparing myself for another "unlucky" diagnosis.

Iworryalot - donr ignore any signs - get to the doctor just to put your mind at rest. No harm done if it is just heartburn thet

WynkenBlynkenandNod Wed 15-Jul-09 12:25:10

My MIL had it, started with the sensation of something being stuck in her throat, I don't think a cough was an issue. Unfortunately her GP fobbed her off for 6 months which meant that sadly the outcome wasn't good for her.

I agree with scout, maybe you could give the consultant's secretary a quick call to explain your fears, he might well be able to put them to rest with a quick phone call.

Iworryalot Wed 15-Jul-09 13:20:27

I will ring gp but cos I'm Ha they often put everything down to anxiety , I'm shocked so many young people get this , I'm 37 ..

ButterbeerAndLemon Wed 15-Jul-09 15:37:06

Iworryalot, DH recently had a sensation of something stuck in his throat making it impossible to eat. First GP told him it was IBS (hmm) second GP reckoned probably a nasty gastrointestinal bug of some kind and put him on some serious antibiotics for a couple of weeks which sorted it (he'd been worried, because it felt so much like a physical obstruction that it was hard to see how it could be cured by antibiotics). So it isn't necessarily something serious; could be something relatively minor and easily sorted out.

I also have a work colleague with a condition called (I believe) megaoesophagus (sp?) where the bottom of the oesophagus becomes distended, and that causes similar symptoms. If caught early (which his wasn't) that can be successfully treated -- if it progresses too far then the only options are living with it or radical surgery that won't completely fix the problem anyway.

Iworryalot Wed 15-Jul-09 16:31:25

thanks for that , what happened to your work colleague?
it has eased off as days gone on , but will see if i can get appt ...i do get indigestion sometimes but never like this ...was almost instant after id eaten my tea quickly , i can swallow fine and hungry etc .its as i said right at bottom of breast bone in the middle before stomach starts ..

ButterbeerAndLemon Wed 15-Jul-09 17:08:04

He's in his early sixties so has basically decided that the loss of quality of life the surgery would bring isn't worth it at present so is living with the condition, eating a very limited diet and losing lots of weight. He's monitored regularly because the condition itself puts him at higher than normal risk of developing oesophageal cancer, so if that happens he'll need to have the surgery anyway.

Iworryalot Wed 15-Jul-09 17:16:54

thanks , im still worried googling isnt helping ..iv come up with heart burn /acid reflux /hietus herni /gallbladder desiese /stones . ulcres /and oesofical C now teriffied ...sorry i cant spell to great either

letsgostrawberrypicking Wed 15-Jul-09 20:32:57

stop googling!!! (I should take my own advicewink) it will only terrify you more. So many things it could be - get thee to the docs and let us know what happens xx

Iworryalot Wed 15-Jul-09 20:45:10

i know ..... i have appt next mon with gp cant fit me in any sooner sad
still hurting now not as bad as yesterday ... my sister says you can have heart burn/indigestion for days sometimes ... she said she has anyway ....still worried ...sorry ...HA worse that ever now ...sad
thanks for listening to me x

Hammy01 Thu 16-Jul-09 12:43:04

My lovely MIL was diagnosed with this 3 years ago.
It started with a persistant sore throat that she had had for over a year. Many antibiotics later they sent her for a 'tube down the throat' thing (sorry can't remember the name) and they discovered that she had a cancerous growth on her voicebox.
She had radiotherapy and then she had to have her voicebox removed. Unfortunately, as they made the hole in her neck to big, she cannot have a stoma (like a cover) but she wears a bib type thing over it and when she talks she holds her thumb over the hole.
When she first had the op she couldn't eat so had a Peg inserted into her stomach where liquid food could be piped in. But now she can eat most things but can't really smell anything and certain foods, like bread she cannot swallow.
She is prone to recurrent chest infections and is on permanent antiobioitcs but she suffered from COPD prior to the cancer but as she has no defence (hole in neck) she seems prone to catching everything.
She also has quite bad acid reflex which can come back up when shes drinking tea, bless her.
But she's still able to enjoy life, go on holiday and play with her grandchildren and for that shes thankful.
Hope this helps and if I can help with any questions, let me know

Hammy01 Thu 16-Jul-09 12:44:35

Forgot to say, I would get him back to GP and have some tests done...and god forbid if there is anything, catching it early means a better success rate of treating it

funnypeculiar Thu 16-Jul-09 12:51:07

My granny had this - and like others on here, ignored symptoms for a long while (she hated doctors!)
I think her first issues were with swallowing - discomfort/sense of 'something in the way' She was diagnosed very late, though. IIRC, her pain was further down that your dh is describing - more around the breastbone.

It is a difficult one, and often mixed up with heatburn type diagnosis (both ways round!)Hope you and worryalot both get a nice, heartburn type diagnosis smile

Iworryalot Thu 16-Jul-09 15:53:35

thanks , funny , havent got any pain at all today , smileswallowing fine so maybe was just heart burn , but am going to gp on monday with my son about another issue so will mention it to her ...
was horrid ... i do have ibs and health anxiety issues so i do get stressy chest pains fro tie to time , but this was differant , havent had it like that ever ...can heart burn /acid reflux cause such pain and for 2 days ?

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