Coping with Swallowing Difficulties (Dysphagia) in Childhood Cancer


Swallowing DifficultiesSymptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.

Difficulty in swallowing is also called dysphagia, and occurs when an individual has trouble getting food or liquid to pass down the mouth or throat. Some individual may gag, cough, or choke when trying to swallow, while others may feel like the food is stuck in their throat.

One cause of dysphagia can be the cancer itself, especially mouth, throat, or oesophageal cancers, which can cause the passages to become restricted or narrowed.

Dysphagia is also a common side effect of some cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy, surgery, and, less commonly, chemotherapy.

Side effects of cancer treatment that may also cause swallowing difficulties include:

  • Fibrosis – scarring or stiffness in the throat, oesophagus, or mouth
  • Infections of the mouth or oesophagus from radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • Mucositis – soreness, pain, or inflammation in the throat, oesophagus, or mouth. Pain associated with mucositis may worsen swallowing problems.
  • Physical Changes to the jaws, mouth, oesophagus, or throat from surgery
  • Swelling or Narrowing of the throat or oesophagus from radiation therapy or surgery
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth) – from chemotherapy or radiation therapy may also worsen swallowing problems.

It is important to distinguish between feeling like food is sticking in your child’s throat and food that is going the wrong way from pain while swallowing, in order to best manage problems with swallowing.

Your child’s doctor may refer your child to a speech pathologist to teach them how to swallow more easily and avoid choking and gagging while eating and drinking. It is often better for those with cancer involving the throat to meet with a speech pathologist to begin swallowing therapy before starting cancer treatment.

 

Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Swallowing Difficulties on our static page, Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia) in Childhood Cancer

 

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About LFCT

This is a blog about CHILDHOOD CANCER and CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS Little Fighters Cancer Trust is a non-profit organisation that offers support and aid to Children with Cancer and their families. When a child is diagnosed with cancer it affects the whole family. One of the parents, usually the mother, must give up their job to care for the child and this creates financial problems for the family. In South Africa especially the majority of these families are not well-to-do; many of them are rural. A diagnosis of cancer can wipe out any family’s finances, let alone a poor family. The costs of special medications, special diets, hospital stays, transport to and from the hospital or clinic and accommodation and food costs for the mother who spends most of the time at her child’s bedside are astronomical. These are the people and problems that fall through the cracks, and these are the people that Little Fighters Cancer Trust has pledged to help in any way possible. LFCT takes a holistic approach to assisting the Children with Cancer and their Families, with the main aim to be the preservation of individual dignity and pride. Little Fighters Cancer Trust also focuses on promotion and advocacy of National Childhood Cancer Awareness in an effort to increase awareness of Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer. This would result in earlier diagnosis, giving the Child with Cancer more of a chance at Treatment and Survival. See "About" for more Background info

Posted on 10 June, 2016, in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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