Cancers of the head and neck are frequently evaluated and treated with surgery. Some head and neck cancers can be treated with surgery alone if they are isolated and little risk exists for the cancer spreading to nearby tissues. Often, however, head and neck cancers are treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation in addition to surgery.
Numerous types of surgeries exist to remove head and neck cancers. Which surgery your ENT surgeon chooses depends on the location, type and stage of the cancer. When possible, only the affected tissues are removed along with a small amount of unaffected tissue that is in close proximity to the cancerous cells.
Extreme effort is made to preserve the function and form of the head and neck structures as much as possible. Surgery for cancers of the head and neck may also include the removal of affected lymph nodes in the area.
The effects of surgery for head and neck cancers vary depending on what surgery is done but oftentimes chewing, swallowing and talking are affected to some degree. Many of the surgeries are done on the inside of the oral cavity to avoid having visible scars but a few like thyroid surgery can leave an external scar.
Our ENT surgeons are very skilled at leaving hardly noticeable scars. For the first few days or weeks after surgery swelling and some discomfort should be expected. It is important to follow all post-procedure instructions to ensure optimal healing. If lymph nodes are removed, swelling may be somewhat of a frequent occurrence since the lymph system helps the body to drain fluid when needed.