Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancers refer to a group of biologically similar cancers, which originate in the upper aerodigestive tract. This tract includes the lip, oral cavity, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, pharynx, and larynx. A large majority of cancers that begin in the head and neck area have the potential to spread to other parts of the body, which is why they must be treated as soon as possible. Such cancers usually spread through the lymph system or through the blood stream. If detected early, head and neck cancers are highly curable. However, in most cases, ENT specialists usually advise a treatment plan consisting of surgery, in combination with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Head And Neck Dissection

A dissection is a surgical procedure through which a cancer may be removed. There are basically two types of neck dissection: a radial neck dissection and a partial neck dissection.

• A radial neck dissection: The main aim of this surgical procedure is to remove all the lymph nodes in the neck, between the collarbone and the jaw. It is usually advised if tests have shown the presence of one or more cancer-affected lymph nodes in the neck. As the lymph nodes are often stuck to various neck structures, this surgery may also involve the removal of other tissues, to make sure that all cancer nodes are completely cleared.

• Partial neck dissection: This procedure is usually advised when the ENT surgeon suspects the presence of microscopic amounts of cancer cells, within the lymph nodes in the neck. It involves the removal of only those groups of nodes, which are expected to get affected by the type of cancer diagnosed in the patient.

This surgery is performed under general anaesthesia, which means that the patient will be asleep for the entire duration of the procedure. In most cases, the surgeon will make two long incisions in the neck to remove the nodes. Most patients do not feel much discomfort after the surgery. As the surgeon may generally remove one of the large muscles in the neck during the surgery, most patients would notice that their neck seems flatter than before, and is also stiff.

The skin on the neck will also feel a bit numb after the surgery. Though over time, this numbness may reduce to some extent, the patient should not expect their skin to return to normal. Other complications of head and neck dissection are blood clots, leak of tissue fluid, nerve injuries, stiff shoulders and inability to swallow food properly.

In general, patients will require at least two to*three weeks off from their normal duties, which will vary according to the type of treatment advised by the ENT surgeon.

The patient will be given full information about head and neck surgery, including benefits, risks and complications, to help them make a decision on whether to undergo the surgery or not. They may change their decision regarding proceeding with the surgery at any time prior to the procedure, even if they have previously signed a consent form.

Our Nose Surgery doctors are specialist in Otology, Sinofacial pain, Voice disorders, Facial plastics, Head and neck surgery, abstructive Sleep Apnoea, Rhinoplasty, Nose Surgery.

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