Head and neck cancer

A place for people affected by head and neck cancers, including oral, throat , larynx (voice box), salivary glands, middle ear, and sinus and nasopharyngeal cancer. Support one another, ask questions, and share experiences.

Dry Mouth

TTIGGY
Posted by

Hi Chris,

Mine was the same cancer, it was also originally diagnosed as not cancerous, but fortunately for me one of the biopsies eventually turned up with a question mark and my surgeon went in to get the little sucker.  Mine was not actually a lump but more of a spread out lesion so in the end the surgeon (fortunately for me) just took out a wedge of the parotid gland, some of it was still glowing when they scanned so I had quite a high dose of radiation.

My teeth are absolutely fine, no decay at all and my gums are tip top.  My jaw is stiff but hasn't locked (despite the high radiation) as I do the exercises etc. every day. I can get my mouth open as wide today as I could before treatment, its just a case of sticking at it.   As much as I can work out they want to remove 'problem teeth' in case your jaw locks and because if there is any decay and a tooth needs removing it may be that the radiation has left you with dead jaw (due to the radiation narrowing the blood vessels and starving the jaw of blood) and as a result it won't heal when the tooth is taken out.

Weighing up all the possibles and maybes I decided to keep my teeth and I am so glad I did.  I only weight 7st 4lb (have done all my life) so I know I would have dropped weight rapidly without my teeth.  Also I felt even if they took out the 'problem teeth' it might be one of the others that caused a problem and I'd still have the same problems.

I am doing just fine now, some saliva has come back on the left side (not much but some) and the parotid gland on the right side is now producing more to make up for it.  I chew the sugar free gum when I go out (fruity flavour as the mint flavour seems to irritate the gums) and the more I chew the more saliva is made.   I can taste all my food and eat just about anything I want now.  So it seems to take forever, but month on month it does get better and better :-)  

My heart goes out to you but I am sure things are going to get better for you.  I also got the result of my PET scan today and an all clear, so the treatment does work :-)  

TTIGGY