Side Effect Management

It helps to learn more about the side effects from your treatment(s) before you begin, so you will know what to expect. When you know more, you can work with your health care team to manage your quality of life during and after treatment.

There are effective and readily available medications to address traditional side effects from cancer treatment (such as nausea, diarrhea, constipation and mouth sores.) Also, as newer 'targeted therapies' become available, they tend to leave people with fewer traditional side effects.

Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to treatment and experiences side effects differently. There are coping mechanisms and strategies that can help.

Laryngeal Treatment Side Effects

Surgery Complications
A Laryngectomy can lead to the development of a fistula (an abnormal opening between two areas that are not normally connected) or narrowing of the throat (a pharyngeal stricture). If there is damage to the thyroid gland, it can lead to hypothyroidism (a patient feels very tired and sluggish.) If there is damage to the parathyroid gland, it can lead to issues low calcium levels, which can cause muscle spasms and irregular heart beat. A very rare but serious complication of neck surgery is rupture of the carotid artery (the large artery in the neck).

A partial laryngectomy can lead to paralysis of the remaining vocal cord, dysphagia (issues swallowing) and the narrowing of the larynx (laryngeal stenosis).

Radiation Therapy
A possible side effect of radiation is that healthy brain tissue may also be damaged. A patient may lose function if large areas of the brain receive radiation. Effects can include memory loss, personality changes, and trouble concentrating. Some patients may become irritable and fatigued during the course of radiation therapy. Nausea, vomiting, and headaches are also possible but are uncommon.

Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy has different side effects depending on the type and dose of drugs given and the length of time they are taken. These side effects can include hair loss, mouth sores, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, increased chance of infections (due to low white blood cell counts), easy bruising or bleeding (due to low blood platelet counts) and fatigue (due to low red blood cell counts.)

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