How long after head and neck radiation until I improve?

arkj prgram head neck cancer head neck rehab wildflower therapy Jan 11, 2023

How long after head and neck radiation until I improve? 

The side effects following head and neck cancer radiation will begin to settle down 2-6 weeks following your completed date of treatment. The amount of time it takes to recover after head and neck radiation therapy is contingent upon several factors. 

Factors that impact overall recovery: 

1. The total dose of radiation. 70 Gy of radiation will take longer than 55 Gy to heal. 

2. The area of the head and neck treated 

3. Individual overall health

4. Side effects encountered during therapy. 

5. Oral intake that you are drinking/eating vs. length of time dependent on feeding tube. 

Most patients will begin to heal 1-2 months after treatment and continue the process for up to a year. 

Side effects that will improve with time:

1. Mucositis

2. Fatigue

3. Skin integrity and irritation

4. Odynophagia (known as pain with swallowing)

What appointments do I need to keep? 

It is essential you keep your physician appointments and follow ups. This includes the radiation oncologist, oncologist, ear nose and throat doctor. Other appointments such as your speech pathologist and physical therapist will aide in setting realistic expectations, timelines and guide your return to eating and drinking. 

Author: Lauren Meffen, MA CCC/SLP, CLT 

Speech Language Pathologist and Certified Lymphedema Therapist

SA9770 License Number