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Post treatment problems? Weds Weekly

Wednesday Weekly is a collection of recent stories about head and neck cancer from Google Alert, compiled and introduced by one of our members. 

Couple of stories this week about life after diagnosis and treatment – even if successful it’s not all roses.

Lead story suggests there’s a good chance of mental decline two years after chemotherapy or radiotherapy - however I’m not convinced treatment is directly responsible. Stress, reduced stimulation from social or employment activity and so on could well be major contributors.

The second story is along similar lines, but suggests some remedies, it’s a long story and worth a look in full.


# If humans didn't exist there would be no one on earth to appreciate how cute otters are

# Given recent events, it might be a good time to permanently retire “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from holiday playlists.

# How do you tell if blue cheese has gone off?


Long-term neurocognitive problems a concern for head and neck can.er survivors

(Canada) Head and neck cancer survivors are at risk for delayed neurocognitive deficits (NCD) for at least 2 years after radiotherapy or chemotherapy, according to a prospective longitudinal study.

The study assessed neurocognitive function and self-reported symptoms in 80 patients with head and neck cancer requiring definitive chemoradiotherapy or radiotherapy and 40 healthy controls. Significant differences were found between the performance of patients and controls in several domains, with patient deficits increasing over time.

“[F]indings indicate that neurocognitive function, although not immediately affected after treatment, progressively declines in the 2 years after definitive treatment with chemotherapy or radiation,” write Lori Bernstein (Princess Margaret Cancer Centre & University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada).

The researchers conducted a 90-minute neurocognitive test .

Overall, patients showed declines in global cognitive function, intellectual capacity, concentration/short-term attention span, verbal memory, executive function, and motor dexterity at 6, 12, and 24 months. However, patients and controls performed equally well in processing speed and visual memory.

The researchers “noticed no consistent pattern to suggest reliable risk between receiving any particular chemotherapy regimen or radiation dose and having greater NCD.”

Nonetheless, they conclude, “Strategies to reduce toxic effects and cognitive rehabilitation options should be available for [head and neck cancer] survivors.”

Full story:


Why the trauma of cancer doesn’t end after treatment

(U.K.) When you think of cancer recovery, chances are you think of someone bouncing back into great shape and health. After all, you’d assume that the worst would be over. But surviving doesn’t always mean living well.

A recent report found that the health and social care system fails to support many recovering cancer patients with the ‘significant physical and emotional trauma’ the illness leaves behind.

It warned that many people felt like they had ‘fallen off a cliff and don’t know what to expect or where to turn to for help’. The report found that over 80% of cancer patients who reported physical difficulties in the two years after treatment said they lacked full support to get their lives back on track.

Key statistics from The online survey of 2,067 people living with cancer in the UK. 34% are still struggling with their physical wellbeing up to two years after treatment ends. 30% who have completed treatment in the last two years say their emotional wellbeing is still affected. 40% who have finished treatment in the last two years are living with moderate or extreme pain or discomfort. 80% of people facing physical difficulties in the two years after treatment say they have not been fully supported to get their life back on track

What should people with cancer know about recovery? It’s easy to get caught up thinking that this is the end but there’s lots cancer survivors can do post treatment, says Dany Bell, Macmillan Cancer Support’s specialist advisor on Treatment and Recovery.

Understand what you can do to help yourself through physical activity – even if that’s increasing the amount of walking.

Know where you can manage anxiety. It doesn’t necessarily have to be face-to-face. You can download a mindfulness app and work through it.

Everybody is different and different things will work for different people You may run into problems even two years down the line with fatigue or anxiety about cancer coming back.

People need to know that’s okay and normal.

Full story:


E-mail me when people leave their comments –

Maureen Jansen, editor of HNCSN, amateur investigator of head and neck cancer issues. Always willing to be questioned and challenged.

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