Anyone had neck dissection surgery? What are your tips?

Posted by kecm @kecm, Sep 14 3:38pm

Neck malignant lymph node cancer recurrence
I have a recurrence of lymph node cancer in my neck and am trying to determine if I want to risk complications from the surgery. Has anyone had this neck dissection surgery? What went well, and what did not go well? Would you recommend doing it, with a flap proposed, or not? Thank you.

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@kecm, treatment decisions are so hard!
I'm tagging fellow members @sepdvm @lynalexa @lynkidd @rlp63 @sweetgia003 and @dakotapat who have had neck dissections or chosen not to so that they can share their experiences.

Kecm, what are your options should you choose not to have surgery? Would you have surgery at a major cancer facility?

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I am sorry to hear of your diagnosis. I will pray for your decisions and successful treatment. I had tonsil cancer that had moved into 2 lymph nodes back in Dec of 2019. They talked about doing surgery to remove but because of the fact that it was a tonsil plus 2 lymph nodes I would still have to have radiation. Because the surgery would not prevent the radiation my doctor advised to skip the surgery and get started with the radiation. My surgeon felt good about the possible surgery though because he could move my lymph node around by hand. He said that because he could move it back and forth by hand it meant the cancer had not sunk roots down into my neck (if that makes sense and those might not have been his exact words) which would allow for a clean removal. I don't know your situation and hope that you have a good surgeon. I would ask if you are going to still have to have radiation and if so what advantage does having both surgery and radiation give you. My situation was the surgery would push the radiation back about 4 weeks for wound healing and then I would still have to have nearly the same amount of radiation. Making the surgery not beneficial. If the surgery would have prevented radiation I would have been all over that. Good luck and I hope this helps you with questions you may want to ask your doctor/surgeon. Prayers for you.

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@colleenyoung

@kecm, treatment decisions are so hard!
I'm tagging fellow members @sepdvm @lynalexa @lynkidd @rlp63 @sweetgia003 and @dakotapat who have had neck dissections or chosen not to so that they can share their experiences.

Kecm, what are your options should you choose not to have surgery? Would you have surgery at a major cancer facility?

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If I had the surgery it would be at UCHEALTH, a very large facility, with a surgeon from MD Anderson. If I do not do the surgery, I will have immunotherapy and proton radiation therapy at MAYO.

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So sorry to hear of your recurrence. I had select neck dissection as part of my original surgery subtotal temporal bone resection for SCC deep in my ear. Lymph nodes and superficial parotid salivary gland were removed on the affected side, as my facial nerve was involved in the tumor and had to be resected then anastamosed. Therefore I woke up with the right side of my face paralyzed. After about 6 months I began to get sensation back in my face and finally some motion since the nerve was reattached. Now, 10 years later, I still deal with synkenesis where I do not have normal control of right side facial muscles, but it is a minimal issue compared to end of life. I have a moderately dry mouth as a result of the salivary gland removal. Again, a livable condition considering my original tumor never recurred there despite dirty margins. I had 7 weeks of radiation following surgery 4 weeks later, in addition to a targeted IV therapy. While I now have metastatic SCC, the original site in my ear and skull have remained clear. Your cancer is a different type if primary lymph node so that may make a difference. I would have the dissection again if doing this over. That said, the new immunotherapies and proton beam offer treatments that were not widely available 10 years ago. Good luck with your decision and treatment.

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I had a radical neck dissection in 1976. I recall waking up and thinking that it felt like I had been run over by a truck or beaten with a claw hammer. You will want lots of morphine or whatever. I had a hemovac attached to my neck for a few days. It was downright comical when the surgeon pulled it out because he was dressed for golf at the time.

I had physical therapy for a while every day before school. They put a hot pack on my neck for 20 minutes at the beginning of the session and I would always drift off to sleep and then get dragged back to reality by the therapist.

Two problems that are hard to tolerate at first: spastic muscles and tingling sensations in the area around the incisions. Get a heating pad for the spasms. I just had to live with the noise in the nerves until it finally went away after a year or two.

I had the surgery as a teenager. For the most part, I don’t think it messed up my life too badly. The radiation is another story, however. The radiation damage builds up over time.

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@kecm, just checking in. I hope you saw the helpful replies from @rlp63 @sepdvm and @ltecato. Have you made any treatment decisions since we last posted together? Did you get any further information that helped make the decision clearer?

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I have decided to have the neck dissection surgery on October 27. It is my only chance for survival. I had 7 weeks of radiation and chemo for this in 2020, which makes the surgery more difficult due to the scar tissue throughout my neck. I am anxious about the surgery and complications but have decided to stay positive and go for it. Thank you for your comments.

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@kecm

I have decided to have the neck dissection surgery on October 27. It is my only chance for survival. I had 7 weeks of radiation and chemo for this in 2020, which makes the surgery more difficult due to the scar tissue throughout my neck. I am anxious about the surgery and complications but have decided to stay positive and go for it. Thank you for your comments.

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Kecm, I'll be thinking of you. Do you have any question you'd like to ask others as you prepare for surgery?

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How did you feel when you came out of anesthesia? How long for recovery?!!! Thank you.

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Thank you for sharing… I was diagnosed in’17 with SCC of the front left lower jaw.. Pretty sure it’s from Agent Orange exposure… had major surgery at WRNMMC, had about 2/3 of jaw removed and replaced by Tibia bone and its blood vessels etc., also lower saliva glands and neck lymph nodes removed..recovery was long, afterwards had 37 Radiation sessions… this brought about new problems since it damaged the transplanted bone and blood vessels,… it is now 5yrs later and still struggling with Dry Mouth and syrup like saliva mostly at night when laying down.. was it worth it? It depends on one’s physical and mental state, would I recommend having surgery? All treatments have consequences so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, best thing is stay positive and have in mind Never to give up…

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