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Head and Neck Cancer

Father in law diagnosed with throat tumour

04/25/2008

Question:

My 86 year old Father in law has been having cold symptoms for some time, blocked nasal passage, trouble breathing especially when lying down, he has been `sleeping` in his chair all night as he can`t lie down. He is eating well but has lost a lot of weight. After an Xray his doctor told him he has a tumour. We don`t know where it is or what it is as he didn`t ask the doctor. He was told that surgery was the only option but thought unwise at his age.What I would like to know is what will happen to him now, will he suffocate eventually as the tumour grows? We are very worried about this of course and would much appreciate your advice.

Answer:

We have very little information. From his symptoms he seems to have a tumor either in the nose, sinuses, or nasopharynx. The next step is to perform a biopsy. Sometimes this can be done in the office. Based on the biopsy results, and the size of the tumor, which is usually determined by CT or MR scanning, a decision regarding therapy is made. Your father in law's medical condition may influence the therapeutic possibilities, especially in regards to chemotherapy. Age in itself is not a contraindication to surgery and/or radiotherapy. It seems as though he needs to revisit his physician to obtain more information. It would be ideal if a family member could tag along. If questions are not answered it would not be unreasonable to get a second opinion.

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Response by:

Cheryl  Koliha-Brandt, MSN, RN, CNS, CORLN Cheryl Koliha-Brandt, MSN, RN, CNS, CORLN
Clinical Nurse Specialist and Instructor of
Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology 
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
Case Western Reserve University

Pierre  Lavertu, MD, FRCS(C), FACS Pierre Lavertu, MD, FRCS(C), FACS
Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University