Being diagnosed with cancer can be devastating. Throat cancer affects a part of your body that is vital to everyday activities, such as breathing, eating and talking. In addition to worrying about how these basic activities may be affected, you may also be concerned about your treatments and chances for survival.
Though you may feel like your life — your survival — is out of your hands, you can take steps to feel more in control and to cope with your throat cancer diagnosis. To cope, try to:
Sep. 13, 2012
- Learn enough about throat cancer to make treatment decisions. Write down a list of questions to ask your doctor at your next appointment. Ask your doctor about further sources of information about your cancer. Knowing more about your specific condition may help you feel more comfortable when making treatment decisions.
- Find someone to talk with. Seek out sources of support that can help you deal with the emotions you're feeling. You may have a close friend or family member who is a good listener. Clergy members and counselors are other options. Consider joining a support group for people with cancer. Contact your local chapter of the American Cancer Society (ACS) or Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer. The ACS's Cancer Survivors Network offers online message boards and chat rooms that you can use to connect with others with throat cancer.
- Take care of yourself during cancer treatment. Make keeping your body healthy during treatment a priority. Avoid extra stress. Get enough sleep each night so that you wake feeling rested. Take a walk or find time to exercise when you feel up to it. Make time for relaxing, such as listening to music or reading a book.
- Go to all of your follow-up appointments. Your doctor will schedule follow-up exams every few months during the first two years after treatment, and then less frequently after that. These exams allow your doctor to monitor your recovery and check for a cancer recurrence. Follow-up exams can make you nervous, since they may remind you of your initial diagnosis and treatment. You may fear that your cancer has come back. Expect some anxiety around the time of each follow-up appointment. Plan ahead by finding relaxing activities that can help redirect your mind away from your fears.
- Abeloff MD, et al. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-4/0/1709/0.html. Accessed Aug. 9, 2012.
- Flint PW, et al. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05283-2..X0001-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05283-2&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Aug. 9, 2012.
- Head and neck cancers. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Aug. 9, 2012.
- Laryngeal cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/laryngeal/patient. Accessed Aug. 9, 2012.
- Hypopharyngeal cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/hypopharyngeal/patient. Accessed Aug. 9, 2012.
- Oropharyngeal cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/oropharyngeal/patient. Accessed Aug. 9, 2012.
- What you need to know about cancer of the larynx. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/larynx. Accessed Aug. 9, 2012.
- Erbitux (prescribing information). Branchburg, N.J.: ImClone LLC; 2012. http://www.erbitux.com/main.aspx. Accessed Aug. 16, 2012.
- Freedman ND, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and head and neck cancer risk in a large United States prospective cohort study. International Journal of Cancer. 2008;122:2330.
- Deng GE, et al. Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology: Complementary therapies and botanicals. Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology. 2009;7:85.
- HPV vaccines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/vaccine.html. Accessed Aug. 31, 2012.