Head and neck cancer

A place for people affected by head and neck cancers, including oral, throat , larynx (voice box), salivary glands, middle ear, and sinus and nasopharyngeal cancer. Support one another, ask questions, and share experiences.

Operation tomorrow for scc right upper jaw

cealw
Posted by

Hi 

I am due to have op tomorrow for scc on right upper jaw.  Will have teeth and part of palate removed and an obturator fitted.  Would be grateful  for any advice/tips for recovery afterwards. Will also be having neck lymph nodes removed.

Many thanks

Cheryl

TDN68
Posted by

Hi Cheryl I had half the roof of my mouth along with the my four front teeth removed this was due to unsatisfactory margins from surgery a few weeks earlier due to septum cancer and I also had my lymph nodes removed at the same time as the septum cancer.   I had an obtarator fitted during surgery.  I was eating weetabix the following morning, have a soft diet for a few weeks, the dietician at the hospital should be able to advice you.   The only things I avoid is steak, pork chops, chewing gum, toffees.  Hope the op went well with you.  Mine was 6 years ago. 

Ron51
Posted by

Don't look in the mirror, I had close to the same though mine was the front of the pallet and full neck dissection, I had a tracheostomy so it was nil by mouth for 10-14 days, the worst thing was the mucus and having to keep removing it. I had no pain as such but was very weak and also couldn't talk until they took the tracheostomy thing out, they do keep putting painkillers in through the cannula and that could be why no pain. you should have tubes everywhere for a time. That's the best I can do for now as you could be totally different.

PS feeding was through a nose feeder so had to sleep on my back, though I had skin taken from my thigh for a graph inside my top lip and if touched that did hurt.

Beware that visitors will/could well be shocked when they first see you. When you feel up to it after come back and I and others will try and help.

chris2012
Posted by

Hello Cheryl , first of good luck for tomorrow you will be in safe hands, I cannot really give much advice as I have not had this operation but I have had other operations to do with head and neck, including floor of the mouth, removal and reconstruction of lower jaw and removal of the voice box . Your first 2/3 days will be a bit unclear due to the anaesthetic the rest just depends on how quickly you heal up and recover as we all react differently although it's surprising how quick head and neck surgery heals up. You will have good and bad days so I tended to take each day as it came. Please do not expect to be rushing back to work after a few weeks (if you work ), be strong and positive and im sure you will be ok. All the best, take care.

                                                                                                   Chris x

Its sometimes not easy but its worth it !                Click here to find out more

cealw
Posted by

Hi both (sorry can't see how to add to the discussion without replying)

Thanks you for the replies.  Thankfully the surgeon says I won't have to have a tracheotomy but I will have a nose tube to be fed for a while.  They are going to take some skin from my thigh, as well.  How do you find the obturator?  I work as a secretary, which involves speaking to people on the phone so am anxious about my voice afterwards.  They said I will have drains in my neck.

cealw
Posted by

Hi Chris

Thanks for your reply.  I will be taking things a day at a time.  I've already been off work for 6 months, as I am still undergoing treatment for breast cancer.  I have had 6 sessions of chemotherapy for breast cancer starting in March and then  surgery.  I had a biopsy on my mouth lesion on a Monday and on the Wednesday I had the breast surgery and the following Monday was told I had mouth cancer.  I have had all the planning for radiotherapy to the breast but that has been put back now until after my mouth op.  I am a bit anxious about the neck dissection as I have read it can affect your shoulder and  lifting your arm and I will need to be able to do this for the breast radiation.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of information for upper jaw cancer.   Mostly it is for throat or lower jaw.

Thanks again

Cheryl 

Ron51
Posted by

The first ones for me where quite bulky but I could manage to speak quite well but it was hard work as in my case my bottom lip doesn't/Didn't do much and my tongue was swollen and that meant making the sounds was difficult. Now I am told I talk well but if I am tired it can slur I also have slight problems with P's and B's as these use mouth shapes and I don't have much of a top lip, you are having one side so with luck you will be better though saying that I am told by all the medical people I talk really well, everything will depend on what they do in the OP, I think they have a good idea but play it by ear when they are doing it.

Are you down for radio?

chris2012
Posted by

You are certainly going through the mill Cheryl, i also had had trouble with my shoulder and lifting my left arm when i had my dissection but by doing certain exercises it soon improved and have never had any problems since, this was in 2010. You are right the lower jaw does seem to be more common for some reason i suppose it's similar in some ways. They took the skin off my thigh and tummy area to use for reconstruction and it all knitted together ok . I just wish i could offer better advice.

                                                                                               Chris x   

Its sometimes not easy but its worth it !                Click here to find out more

Ron51
Posted by

Good luck

TDN68
Posted by

Hi Cheryl again, 

I am a Sales Assistant and you will get used to it, your speech will be fine.  Another patient who had the same as me done and his speech is fine you can see on my bio on what and why.  As for thek dissection, I was warned in the literature I was given in what your worried about might happen.  I had a neck dissection from ear to ear for lymph removals, my shoulders and arms were fine after after your dissection wound has healed, put bio oil on it.  Sorry your having a double whammy to deal with.  Try and stay positive

cealw
Posted by

Hi all, just to say thank you all for your helpful advice.  I'm now almost 2 weeks from surgery and came out of hospital yesterday (Tuesday 15 October).  It was quite rough at first after surgery but I was well looked after on the ward.  I have a surgical obturator fitted and everyone says my voice is fine.  At the moment it is screwed into the roof of my mouth.  The surgeon thinks that he is 99.9% positive I will need radiotherapy but the histology results are not back yet.  I'm still hoping for the 1% chance of not having it! Eating and drinking is going well.

Once again many thanks for your help and advice

Cheryl xx

chris2012
Posted by

Hello Cheryl, thanks for the update as its always nice to hear how people are getting on so well done so far and, yes fingers crossed for the 1%. Thanks again, best wishes.

                                                                          Chris x

Its sometimes not easy but its worth it !                Click here to find out more

TDN68
Posted by

I’m glad that your finding the obturator ok, it is something you will get used to, it’s similar to a brace but with teeth on.  How’s the neck after the dissection?  

Ron51
Posted by

TDN68 "it’s similar to a brace" if that's the case I'm glad I never had to suffer a brace.

cealw
Posted by

Hi all, just an update, The pathology results are not through yet but they have recommended I have two sessions of chemo with cisplatin and 6 sessions of radiotherapy. I am also anaemic so I'm going to have 3 pints of blood transfusion.  I'm starting radiotherapy to the breast on Monday for 3 weeks, having the blood transfusion on Wednesday and will be starting radiotherapy for the head and neck on 18 November.  I have been asked if I would prefer a nasogastric tube or a peg for feeding, would be grateful for any advice.

Many thanks for your help

Cheryl