If you’re having problems chewing or swallowing

Chemotherapy, and radiotherapy treatments for a head or neck cancer, can affect the cells in the healthy lining of the throat, which can make it painful to chew or swallow. Let your doctor or dietitian know if you’re having difficulties swallowing.

  • You may find that taking painkillers before mealtimes can help you chew and swallow more easily. Your doctor or nurse can advise you about this.
  • Keep eating your favourite foods where possible, but make changes to soften them. For example, cover foods in interesting sauces and gravies; finely chop meat and vegetables then casserole or stew them; and cut the crusts off bread for softer sandwiches. If you have a blender you could liquidise cooked foods.
  • There are several balanced food supplements that you may find helpful, for example Build up® or Complan® drinks. You can buy these in your chemist or supermarket. Your doctor may give you a prescription for some of them.