The glossopharyngeal nerve is a cause of reflex bradycardia and syncope in patients with head and neck cancer. These clinical syndromes are rare but can be debilitating with variation in clinical presentation. The underlying mechanism is often incorrectly assumed to be carotid sinus hypersensitivity due to the cancerous lesion; however, examples in the literature also report the effect on the glossopharyngeal nerve or its branches by parapharyngeal lesions. We report two such cases known to a palliative care service. The symptomatic treatment options were limited due to patients’ frailty. Both patients experienced some reduction in their syncopal symptoms with anticholinergic agents.
- head and neck
- hospice care
- symptoms and symptom management
- hospital care
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