Dear Mandie, my heart goes out to you. I have been where you are now (terminal kidney cancer in my husband's case) so I know the overwhelming feeling of disbelief, panic, terror and heartbreak that sweeps over one at this nightmare time.
In practical terms, you say your husband has been told his cancer is inoperable. But is it untreatable, and if so, why is that? What is his general state of health (sounds a daft question, given his diagnosis, but I mean how healthy is he 'apart from' the cancer? Has he got a bad heart, weak immune system, other health issues, either separate from the cancer or caused by it, ie a 'co-morbidity'?). If he is in a very weak state of health, he may not be up to coping with any anti-cancer treatment alas.
Is his oncologist talking about any treatment at all, or only palliative care? This is the distinction between treatment that attacks the cancer and seeks to reduce it by any means (usually surgery, radiation or drug therapy) in order to extend life (not talking about 'cure' but about keeping alive longer), and simply treating the symptoms to make him 'comfortable'.
The very, very last thing I want to do is offer the false comfort of false hope, but it is essential not to let him be 'written off' before exploring ALL the options - if necesasry with another oncologist at another treatment centre (you have the right to demand a referral elsewhere).
It could be, for example, that his oncologist is not recommending chemo because your husband's health generally is too poor to withstand this gruelling treatment, or it could be because in the opinion of the oncologist it's a 'waste of time' - but that is your husband's decision, not the oncologist's!
It can sometimes be possible, too, to use chemo (or other drug treatment - see below) in a form called 'neo-adjuvent' which means that the drug/chemo is used initially to reduce the size of the tumour (especially if it's grown into tricky to reach by surgery places) and thereby make it possible to remove (or at least, reduce - "debulk" they call it, when they can't take it all out, but can take some of it out).
What kind of throat cancer is it, as this can, of course, critically affect how treatable it is, and how advanced is it (ie, has it metastasised - spread to other organs like the lungs via the bloodstream, rather than the initial tumour simply growing very large where it is). Metastatic cancer of all kinds is usually treated by drug therapy, at least first, unless there are only a few 'mets' (secondary tumours) which the surgeon can get at easily.
What kind of oncologist is your husband seeing? A surgical oncologist, or a medical oncologist - that may make a difference in attitude. Again, the very last thing I want to do is offer false hope, but one mantra (especially in the USA!) is that 'when a surgeon tells you your cancer is inoperable he means that HE can't do it - doesn't mean another one couldn't.....'(though yes, sometimes no surgeon could do it....)
I mentioned chemo, but these days there are several new drugs that are 'beyond chemo' that are coming into mainstream use in many cancer types. These are 'targetted therapy' drugs (Herceptin for breast cancer is the most famous, but there are an increasing number out, and still more coming out). One that I've read about (just by googling it now) for throat cancer is Cetuximab (also called Erbitux), and there may possibly be others as well.
However, and this may be a big 'however', the targetted drugs that are available in other countries may not yet be available in the UK - or, if they are, are only available privately and not approved for the NHS (drug approval in cancer is a huge, huge controversial topic, as you probably know - NICE doesn't like to authorise these new expensive drugs.....).
Now, again, without knowing any of the specifics of your husband, it could just possibly be that one of these new types of drugs IS suitable for him (they don't cure, but they can extend life, and 'keep him going' for a while longer), but if it hasn't been approved for the NHS (ie, no funding for it) then it could be that your husband's oncologist hasn't mentioned it to you as it would get your hopes up. cruelly......BUT, for all that, it COULD be that you might be able to afford to self-fund, at least for a while????? So, I would say it is definitely worth asking whether there are any new targetted therapies that might possibly be of benefit to him.
In that vein, it could also be worth asking if there are any trials going on that he might be eligible for - though he may be excluded for other health reasons, alas, or the trial is full up already, etc.
Overall, I DO HOPE I haven't raised 'false hopes' which would be cruel and dreadful, but I would though recommend that if you have NOT yet been given any information about what latest drugs MIGHT be suitable for him, irrespective of cost, then you should enquire about them. The Cancer Drugs Fund is still, I believe, in existence, and was created to provide a line of funding for these new drugs outside what NICE does or does not approve of. Getting a potentially suitable drug for your husband via the CDF might just be possible.
I hope none of this is 'unhelpful' but you may know all of it already and none of it may be applicable to your husband.
In which case, then all I will say is that, weird though this may sound, cancer is a very, very 'individual' disease, and some patients do much, much better than their prognosis. Another 'mantra' from the US sites is that 'NO doctor carries a death certificate with a precise date on it in their pockets'......
I wish you all the very, very best that is medically possible yet, if at all, and I can provide you with some links to US information and forum sites that I used when my husband was diagnosed (eg, http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/larynx/page8#e
). Also, the British ones, eg, Macmillan forum (, can also be extremely useful, as can specialist organisations, etc
http://www.everydayhealth.com/head-and- ... ancer.aspx
http://www.sharecare.com/health/throat- ... oat-cancer
http://www.throatcancerfoundation.org/? ... uFzj_w_wcB
Please PM me if there is any other source of information (eg, list of possible throat cancer trials) that I may be able to find for you.
With kindest thoughts at this darkest time for you and your family, Jenny