Swallowing Dysfunction Secondary to Radiation-Induced Fibrosis

What is it?
In the process of killing cancer cells, radiation therapy can not only destroy normal tissue, but it can severely injure normal tissue.  Scar tissue from radiation can continue to build up for many years after the original therapy, often producing ongoing problems with swallowing.  Furthermore, the radiation can damage nerves, causing permanent weakness and sensory changes.
How are they treated?
A careful swallowing evaluation (often including FEES and a modified barium swallow) is helpful in determining how radiation has  impacted the swallow, and deciding on potential treatment options such as endoscopic surgery (dilations, lasering of scar tissue, etc) and/or swallowing therapy.