Head and neck cancer surgery is prescribed as the first line of treatment for cancer in the associated areas. The goal of surgery is to remove the cancerous tumor with minimal damage to healthy tissue. Head and neck cancer symptoms include lumps, sore throat, cough, weight loss, and others. Timely diagnosis of these common neck cancer symptoms by an orthopedist can lead to significant recovery.
There are several types of surgeries for head and neck cancer depending on the stage of tumors and the malignancy. While laser technology may be used to treat an early-stage tumor especially those affecting the larynx, an excision may be required for a tumor that has grown in size. The excision procedure usually removes the cancerous tissue along with a portion of the healthy tissue to prevent future growths.
If the surgery results in removal of large amount of tissue or bone structure like the jaw, skin, pharynx, or tongue, a reconstructive surgery may be required. This type of operation becomes necessary to restore functionality and physical appearance.
Sometimes it may not be possible to remove the entire cancerous tissue and the surgery has to be followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy to destroy the residual cancer cells. Side effects of surgery depend on the type and location of the surgery. Common side effects include temporary or permanent loss of normal voice, impaired speech and hearing loss. Some patients experience difficulty in chewing or swallowing and a tube has to be inserted to aid feeding. Decreased thyroid function may occur in patients undergoing a total laryngectomy.
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