I thought I take this opportunity to share that recently over the past month or so, I have been receiving calls from some of our survivors anxious over some of their symptoms in the nasal and head area. Usual examples include runny wet nose, painful nose, nose bleed, head spasm or headache. Often, the worry is the symptom may present a cancer return or relapse. So over the phone, I hear alot of anxiousness asking me if the symptom is bad news for them. Well let me address this worry for the benefit of all, based on my experience with all that I have so far seen and heard.
First and foremost, it is understandable that we still have lingering thoughts of cancer in our mind. For some, it is still so real that they worry every time a nasal symptom comes up. So almost anything associated with the nasal is bad news. Well, let me say that this is furthest from the truth. Whilst I appreciate our acute sensitiveness to cancer, often the symptoms presented may suggest that we are just having a simple flu or a cold. That has been the case so far. Not one case I know has turned out to be a relapse.
Here are some pointers for future consideration should anyone come face to face with the same problem:-
- Runny wet nose is a sure sign of a flu. After radiation, our nose is usually dry due to the RT exposure. So any runny wet nose is unusual. Go see your GP or family doctor, get some medicine, go to sleep and you will be well. Runny wet nose may be accompanied by a higher level of phlegm (usually yellowish), cough and headache.
- Painful nose is not a sign of cancer. Cancer tumour, as we all know, is painless. Therefore any lumps either on the nose or neck that is painful is likely to be a pimple, acne, mosquito bite etc. It is usually itchy requiring one to scratch it. A dose of medication or cream will usually take care of it from the GP or family doctor.
- Nose bleed may not necessarily be a sign of cancer. Nose bleed is sometime caused by body heatiness. Sometime it is also caused by survivors blowing their nose too hard when they do their daily nose flushing. Blowing too hard will injure some of the tissues within the nose resulting in the bleeding. If the bleeding stops after a while, then fine. But if the bleeding continues for the next few days, then make an appointment to see your ENT doctor to check if there is something else in there.
- Head spasm is part of the RT side effect. My family doctor tells me that it could also be due to a muscle twitch, which happens quite normally. However after RT treatment, we tend to be more sensitive to the head and neck area and every little spasm suddenly becomes a sign to worry.
I hope this sharing helps bring light to the matter. But should any of the symptoms persist despite medication after a week or so, please do make an appointment to see your ENT doctor to confirm that all is still well.
About the Author
Calling himself a Nose Cancer Ambassador, Thiam Chye aims to de-mystify nose cancer by encouraging all survivors to share their personal experiences in their fight against cancer to enable new patients to undergo their treatment with courage and minimal pain and to lead a better quality of life on recovery. Should you wish to join the support group in its activities or need guidance on this article, please email him at
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