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Pain and radiation???


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Hi everybody,

I feel terrible for my Mama, her very first pain (from this cancer) has arrived :(

She's had 12 radiation treatments since Aug 27th. On Thursday (2 days ago), she started having some pain in her esophagus. She said it feels kind of like when you swallow something too large, or very pointy, and it takes forever to go down. She rated the pain at about a 5 out of 10. It's happening after she swallows, or coughs, or sneezes, or burps, or bends over...or sometimes for no reason...you get the idea.

She's a bit upset because she thought she was going to get away "scott free" without any side effects...poor Mama! She's feeling a little pissed off at the world today...and I made sure to tell her that's OK!

So she, and I would like to know...is this normal, have you experienced this, and what else might she expect???

Thanks so much,



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Hi, Linda:

I haven't had radiation myself, but from reading the reports of others I'd say painful swallowing is a very common side effect of radiation. I've heard others talk of a "magic mouthwash" that helps with the pain and makes it possible to eat and drink with less discomfort. I believe it's a prescription item, and there may be more than one version -- an experienced pharmacist would know. Perhaps a pharmacist could mix up something helpful Sunday, then when you're able to speak to the radiation oncologist or his office, they could call in a prescription for something stronger.

Some who have used the magic mouthwash say it tastes pretty bad, but it was worth it since it allowed them to get some nourishment down the pipe. Even with the mouthwash, they said liquids and soft foods were all they could handle for a while, and the mouthwash needed to be used immediately before trying to eat or drink.

Sorry I can't give you any first-hand advice, but maybe this will get you started until someone more knowledgeable responds. Aloha,


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Hi Linda. I am sorry your mom has pain. Seems to be something we can't avoid. As you know, I did not suffer pain from radiation and was lucky. I hope others ring who have although I think it is quite common depending on the location. Tell her to hang in there, i t may get worse before it gets better but it will be worth it. Take care


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Hi Linda,

Sorry to know that your Mom is having difficulty swallowing. That is very uncomfortable, Bill knew that side effect quite well.

When Bill had radiation to his lung, he experienced no pain at all, and went on with his eating, swallowing without any side effects at all.

However, when he had the neck nodule radiated, there was a problem, and he used a prescription given to him by his oncologist.

It was called Lidocaine for him to swish in his mouth for a few seconds, and then to spit it out. This was done prior to eating, and could be repeated every hour, as needed. It numbed the throat.

Fortunately, that symptom ended after the treatments were concluded.

Since eating is so important to maintaining weight, and keeping nourished, anything that alleviates the discomfort is a great big plus.

Wishing your Mom improvement, and a solution to that difficulty.


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I had radiation and suffered the same lump your mama is suffering. Swallowing became real work and brought pain...

My doctor told me to drink a shot of aloe three times a day (George's brand was sold at the pharmacy - clear liquid, hardly any taste) when the pain first began. It soothes the irritation. Mind you, it doesn't take away ALL of the irritation, but it does offer some relief.

As the irritation progressed, we moved on to a very, very nasty tasting prescription medication that used to be used for stomach ulcers. For the life of me, I can't remember the name... I would drink the shot of aloe and then a shot of this crap and it would soothe and coat for a while.

Now, the "eating" part of it... I couldn't swallow liquids, they were the absolutely worst thing to get down. I found that soft foods that break up well when chewed (Double Stuf Oreo cookies) went down the easiest, a bit at a time while I chewed. I could not follow up with a milk "chaser" but got some calories in (70/cookie).

I was under the impression that the pain would stop when the radiation did, but it doesn't. Radiation continues to work after the procedure itself. My esophagus gradually felt better, but it took weeks and it was slow...

Good luck to her!

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