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Swelling of head and neck


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I went to see my Mom today. She has been in a hospice facility since October of last year. She has been pretty out of it for a while now. Today when I went she was so swollen! Her head and neck were huge. I had to look around the room to make sure I was in the right room!

She is believed to have brain mets again but we are not 100%. She has been on steroids for the last 2 years with no increase in the dosage.

Does anyone have any idea about what could cause such swelling? I am not kidding when I say her head and neck look to be about 2-3 times what they were.

Her voice was very deep and raspy today. She also has a cough now. None of this was the case last week.

Any ideas will be appreciated. I hate not knowing and understanding what is going on. Hospice tells me it is all of the disease process. Well, duh! of course it is!

Thanks for any help or ideas.


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My guess would be vena cava syndrome is causing your mom's swelling. When the tumor pushes on the vena cava (the vein to the heart) the blood backs up and the head and neck swell. It can usually be relieved with radiation to shrink the tumor off the vein or a stent.

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After searching on line last night, I think you are right about the vena cava syndrome. They will not do any treatment for it though as she is in hospice.

Is vena cava painful? Is it life-threatening?

She has all of the symptoms of this that I found on line.

Thank you for any answers.

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Don't have info about the swelling, but wanted to say how very sorry I am about your Mom. My dearest brother-in-law (Tony's bro), was diagnosed with the same scenario several years ago. It's so hard when they don't know what the primary is, but he too had brain surgery, brain tumor radiation, and chemo. He lost his brave battle 2 1/2 years ago. They always thought that it originated it the lung, but never found anything. He became fairly disoriented at the end, but didn't swell.

Again, so sorry and prayers going up for you and yours.


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