Sore Throat in Cancer Patients

Therapies to treat cancer can cause inflammation in throat. You must take proper care of your diet and should consult your doctor if you face such troubles.

Editorial Team
CancerWritten by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Sep 07, 2012
Sore Throat in Cancer Patients

What is it?

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy to the head and neck can make the lining of your throat inflamed and sore (esophagitis). It may feel as if you have a lump in your throat or that your chest or throat is burning. You may also have trouble swallowing. These problems may make it hard to eat and cause weight loss. [Read: How to Relieve a Sore Throat]

Why it Happens ?

Some types of chemotherapy and radiation to the head and neck can harm fast-growing cells, such as those in the lining of your throat. [Read: How to Prevent Sore Throat]

Your risk for a sore throat, trouble swallowing, or other throat problems depends on:

    * How much radiation you are getting
    * If you are getting chemotherapy and radiation therapy at the same time
    * Whether you use tobacco or drink alcohol during your course of cancer treatment

Ways to Manage with Food

Take a look at these ways of managing sore throat with food. [Read: Home Remedies for Sore Throat]

    * Eat 5 or 6 small meals each day instead of 3 large meals. You may find it easier to eat a smaller amount of food at one time.
    * Choose foods that are easy to swallow. Some foods are hard to chew and swallow. To help, choose soft foods such as milkshakes, scrambled eggs, and cooked cereal. For other ideas, see the list of foods and drinks that are easy to chew and swallow.
    * Choose foods and drinks that are high in protein and calories. See the lists about ways to add protein and ways to add calories. If weight loss is a problem, see the section about weight loss.
    * Cook foods until they are soft and tender.
    * Cut food into small pieces. You can also puree foods using a blender or food processor.
    * Moisten and soften foods with gravy, sauces, broth, or yogurt.
    * Sip drinks through a straw. This may make them easier to swallow.
    * Do not eat or drink things that can burn or scrape your throat, such as:
          o Hot foods and drinks
          o Spicy foods
          o Foods and juices that are high in acid, such as tomatoes, oranges, and lemonade
          o Sharp, crunchy foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
          o Drinks that contain alcohol

Tell your Doctor or Nurse if you


    * Have trouble swallowing
    * Feel as if you are choking
    * Cough while eating or drinking

Other ways to Manage

    * Talk with a dietitian. He or she can help you choose foods that are easy to swallow.
    * Sit upright and bend your head slightly forward when eating or drinking. Stay sitting or standing upright for at least 30 minutes after eating.
    * Do not use tobacco products. These include cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and chewing tobacco. All of these can make your throat problems worse.
    * Think about tube feedings. Sometimes, you may not be able to eat enough to stay strong and a feeding tube may be a good option. Your doctor or dietitian will discuss this with you if he or she thinks it will help you.
    * Talk with your doctor or nurse. Tell your doctor or nurse if you have trouble swallowing, feel as if you are choking, cough while eating or drinking, or notice other throat problems. Also mention if you have pain.


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