Head and Neck cancer 2004, had surgery, chemo therapy, radiation. Over time lots of reflux, neck and shoulder discomfort, tightening of neck, mouth etc. Have steadily been losing my voice. I have a lot of accumulated mucus in my mouth and when I talk it increases. I am unable to pronounce certain letters or combination thereof. My wife tries to understand what I am saying but it is getting worse and I can't seem to do anything about it. Recently went for a doctors visit on an unrelated matter and I asked about my voice and he casually replied that he didn't think my voice would ever recover. Is there anything that I can do to improve this situation? As you can imagine that along with all the other side effects this is increasingly frustrating. Thank you in advance.
Melissa Walker, M.S., CCC-SLP writes...
symptoms you describe are not out of the ordinary for someone who has been
through surgery and chemo-radiation therapy for head and neck cancer, but there
certainly are treatment options available. Neck and shoulder discomfort,
typically secondary to 11th cranial nerve dysfunction following neck dissection,
may be addressed by a physical therapist. Tightening of the mouth with
associated speech and voice changes can be addressed in by a speech pathologist
who specializes in the treatment of patients with head and neck cancer. Any
treatment would be preceded by a thorough evaluation. Here at the Milton J.
Dance Head & Neck Center at GBMC, we offer multi-disciplinary care to all
head and neck cancer patients from diagnosis through survivorship. Although you
may not live in an area where such a multi-disciplinary team is available, ask
your physician for referrals to head and neck cancer-specific speech
pathologists and physical therapists; I am sure they will have evaluation and
treatment options to offer you.
Best of luck to you.