Ears Nose Throat Radiotherapy


Radiation on the ENT area and adjacent glands can sometimes cause side effects. You may or may not experience adverse effects. The effects and their severity vary from person to person. This information sheet contains details about potential side effects and ways to deal with them. Generally, side effects appear in the 3rd week of treatment and can affect all organs located in the area treated.


Effects on your skin:

Around the 3rd week of treatment, your skin might become sore and red, and feel the same sensation when you get a sun bath. This erythema will trend to become more acute during the treatment session and might cause painful superficial burns.

Practical advice:

  • Use an electric shaver rather than a razor; if possible, do not shave during your radiotherapy treatment
  • Do not use alcohol-based perfumes or after-shave lotions
  • Do not apply any balm or lotion on the areas treated
  • Avoid sunshine
  • Wear collarless clothes

Effects on mucosal tissue:

During the 2nd or 3rd weeks of treatment, your mouth might become painfull something like when you get an angina; then, you might develop ulceration of the mucosa. These ulcers are painful and you sometimes cannot eat normally. This pain will become worse towards the end of your treatment.

Practical advice:

  • Avoid raspy foods: hot spices, dry bread, biscotti, foods with a high sugar content, oleaginous fruits (walnut, hazelnut…)
  • Avoid acid foods: vinegar, citrus fruits (lemon, orange, grape-fruit…), tomato, pineapple…
  • Don’t drink or eat something too hot.
  • As soon as you feel pain, let your radiation oncologist know; he/she will prescribe drugs to control it. This will help to continue your treatment under favourable conditions.

If your mouth is dry:

During your treatment you will produce less saliva and your mouth will become dry you will lost your taste normally. Taking spicy food will help you recover this sensation but don’t abuse it.

Practical advice:

  • Always keep your mouth wet (by drinking water regularly, sucking on ice cubes, or rinsing your mouth with water)
  • Eat ice cream
  • Make sure your mouth is very clean; use soft dental tooth brush rather than toothpicks
  • Stop drinking alcohol and smoking.
  • You may or may not experience the above side effects.
  • Most sensation of irritation and congestion will progressively disappear a few weeks after the end of your treatment.
  • Tell the therapeutic radiographers or your radiation oncologist about any unusual feelings you may have to receive appropriate treatment.
  • Your radiation oncologist will give you the most appropriate treatment for your specific case. Ask him/her any further question you may have