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JCM

Esophagus issues post radiation

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How long does it take the esophagus and lung tissues to heal following radiation? Has anyone found that they cough deeply after eating, feel swollen in middle of chest where food passes and is still having swallowing type issues several months after radiation?

I would be grateful to hear the experiences of others and how long coughing lasted, digestive issues, etc and if this has been permanent for anyone?

And if you have tips to pass on when eating and coughing issues persist for several months?

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I had minor irritation during radiation. I had (and continue to have to some degree) some difficulty swallowing. I know there are others on here who had to have outpatient procedures to widen their esophagus. Have you mentioned these issues to the radiation oncologist?

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Hi JCM,

ditto to what Susan said.  My 5.5 weeks of radiation wrapped up July 2018 and my throat felt like several whole peaches (not just peach pits, that is) got stuck in my throat.  It did get better weeks after the end of radiation.  When I saw my radiation onc yesterday after my 6 month scan, he did ask me if I have any trouble swallowing.  Turned out about a year after would be when any long term damage from radiation treatment is assessed/addressed.  He did mention if I did have trouble, they can "go in and open it up".  I wouldn't say I'm 100% like pre-radiation, but it doesn't bother me to a point I really had to think about it before answering that question. 

Everyone's body reacts differently to treatments and recovers differently.  As Susan suggested, if I were you, I'd definitely mention to the rad onc.  If you can email the rad onc team, I'd say do so (when I have questions on weekend/holiday and it's not urgent, that's how I ask questions.  His nurse checks the emails and relays the questions/answers OR the doc himself calls me with the answers).

Hopefully it helps a bit.  Good luck to you and take care.

MB

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Thank you both for your replies. I am meeting with the radiation onc tomorrow to discuss and will  keep you posted. 

Jane

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Esophagitis update:

Met with radonc today and he said it was very unusual for me to have this lingering 4 months post radiation. His reasoning is mine was a low dose radiation because it was presurgical in the plan. He was very surprised that I’m still having trouble swallowing and coughing when trying to eat solid food.

What he suggested is an upper endoscopy to get a look at what is going on. I just have to figure out how to fit it in since next week is my PFT and follow up with pulmonologist and the following week a CT chest and abdominal/pelvic scan. I am on active surveillance for a possible recurrence because of new enlarging nodules that are small but growing - largest is 6mm. My pulmonologist thinks they might be inflammatory and if there’s an inflammatory response going on in my esophagus and I’m coughing my brains out, well maybe those nodules are not cancerous. If they are it represents metastasis -  cancer that has entered my bloodstream. Fingers crossed they’re due to inflammation!

Trying to stay positive but also feel compelled to prepare for worst. Not easy to balance these opposing but authentic emotions.

jane

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