Head and neck surgeries are common in cancer patients. Surgeons perform these surgeries to remove cancer and decrease its effects on your swallowing and speech. Operations become necessary because cancer will gradually affect your eating, swallowing, speech, and appearance. After your surgery, you will need a dietitian and speech therapist.
Small oral cancers are removed through the mouth. Surgeons will cut your skin to remove large tumors in your throat. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should immediately visit Oral MaxilloFacial & Head and Neck Surgical Clinic – NextGenOMS.com.
- Lump in throat, neck or nose
- Dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing)
- Unexpected weight loss
- Hoarseness or change in voice
- Trouble hearing or ear pain
- Frequent coughing
- Persistent congestion or nasal obstruction
- Bad breath
- Trouble breathing
- Unusual discharge or frequent bleeding in the nose
Treatment Options for Head and Neck Cancer
To treat cancers, surgeons target the neck and head tumors with some technologies and treatments, such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. Sometimes, targeted therapy and immunotherapy are necessary options. A team of expert will treat you and answer your different questions. After your examination, they recommend you different treatments for neck and head cancer.
Preparation for Surgery
Patients may have to stay almost one week in the hospital. You have to go through different procedures after surgery in the hospital and after returning home. Before your surgery, meet your surgeon to get the necessary recommendations. The cancer patient has to eat a healthy diet before and after surgery to maintain weight. It can be difficult to swallow if you are bearing pain in the throat. Several neck and head cancer patients smoke heavily. If you are a smoker, you should stop this habit. Spend at least two weeks without tobacco to improve the function of your lungs. It is necessary for quick recovery.
If you are habitual to drink alcohol, you should inform your surgeon. Your surgical team should have information about your drinking or drug abuse. It will affect your surgical procedure and care in hospital. Try to avoid alcohol before surgery to give an instant boost to your health. Surgeons often recommend a light exercise before surgery.
On the date of surgery, make sure to come to the hospital at least two hours before surgery. You can go alone because a long procedure of surgery can irritate your family members. The surgery may last between 8 and 12 hours. Your surgeon will notify your friends or family members after surgery. After an operation, you will be kept on a breathing machine for one night.
After your surgery, doctors will shit you in an intensive care unit (ICU) for almost three days. During this period, staff will monitor you closely. Finally, you will be shifted to a special surgery unit. Some patients can’t eat by mouth after their operation. Your doctor may find it unsafe for you to eat by mouth. In this situation, he will slide down a narrow tube in your stomach through your nose during surgery. This tube is known as a nasogastric tube. It is necessary to provide sufficient nutrients to patients.
Pay Attention to Oral Hygiene
Oral hygiene is necessary after head and neck surgeries. Your doctor will recommend you the ways to keep your mouth clean. After surgery, you may experience some pain. It is a normal phenomenon. Pain tolerance can be different from everyone. Your surgeon may recommend you to have a pain control medicine. With these medicines, you can heal at a faster rate. If you are experiencing pain, immediately inform your doctor.
Patients may have 2 to 3 drains near surgical incisions. These drains will stay with you for a few days. A temporary drain is necessary to decrease swelling. Sometimes, patients have to carry these bags to their house.
After Your Discharge
Some patients need help after discharge. Health care is necessary at home to speed up your recovery. Depending on your requirements, you can get a qualified nursing facility at your home for a few days. If your friend, family member or spouse is available for your help, the surgeon will instruct them for your needs. If you are alone, you can share your problem with your surgeon to get some help. Unlike other surgeries, you can take a shower. After taking a shower, pat your cuts dry. If your cuts need extra care like dressing, the team will manage everything. Try to keep your wounds clean and keep them away from the sun.
Side Effects After Surgery
You may bear some side effects from the general anesthetics and the surgery. The common side effect is fatigue that may last almost 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. It is normal, and you must take sufficient rest to recuperate.
Swelling is common to your face and neck after an operation. Some numbness on neck and face is also common. You may experience these side effects for two weeks. These feelings will gradually diminish with time. If you have to go home with tube feeling, your doctor will arrange for tube feeding formula and supplies. Moreover, they will teach you to set up a tube feeding formula at home.
Sometimes, a patient needs occupational and physical therapy to build his/her strength. Consult your surgeon because they can arrange a good therapist for you. Based on the staging of cancer, patients may need additional treatments after surgery, such as radiation or chemotherapy. A doctor will discuss possible options with you before surgery.
You may need some swallow and speech therapy. If it is necessary, you have to consult a speech pathologist. Speech therapy becomes essential for patients after radiation therapy. After regaining your energy, you should do light exercise, such as walk (don’t overdo it). Before performing vigorous exercises, you have to consult your doctor. Stay away from drinking and smoking. These can affect the speed of recovery.
Moreover, these can increase the chances of cancer recurrence. Eat a healthy diet, and stay away from drugs and alcoholic beverages. It is essential for your health and future.