Neck stiffness and lack of saliva after radiation treatments for throat cancer
So, what I really want to know is how his life can be made less painful. Please, if you have any information on pain relief or making his saliva better, let me know.
In regard to the first issue, there are many very potent pain relief agents and muscle relaxants that should work to alleviate his discomfort. Aspirin and ibuprofen are powerful over the counter anti-inflammatory agents that are often effective. If not, pain killers in the opoid class of narcotics are often effective. Several companies produce long acting pain killers in either a pill or patch form which are commonly used with very good success in the cancer patient population.
Regarding the second issue, inadequate saliva production is a very difficult problem to manage. However, there are several steps to be taken which can help. The use of a saliva substitute will bathe the oral mucosa and keep it moist. In addition, Salagen is a fairly new medication that has been effective in increasing salivary flow in a majority of patients.
Salagen and opoid narcotics are prescription only and must be taken under the care of a physician. Given the many alternatives now available, no cancer patient should suffer in pain. For more information on pain control, please see OncoLink's Pain Management section.
Kenneth R. Blank, MD