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Surgery may be done to remove either a benign or a cancerous tumor. Your healthcare team will let you know what to expect. They’ll also discuss the possible risks and complications of the surgery.
Your surgery may take from a few minutes to several hours. At the start, you’ll receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, surgery can include:
Removing the tumor. If the tumor is benign, you may need no further treatment after it’s removed. If the tumor is cancerous, you may also need radiation or chemotherapy.
Helping you breathe while the tumor is removed. To do this, a small hole may be made in the front of your throat. A tracheostomy (trach) tube may be inserted through this hole to help you breathe.
Removing some lymph nodes from your neck if your tumor is cancerous. This procedure (called neck dissection) can help keep the cancer from spreading.
Using tissue from your forearm, thigh, chest, back, or other donor site to replace tissue removed during the surgery. If necessary, this can help you regain better use of your mouth, throat, or neck after treatment.
Some of the risks and complications of surgery include:
Difficulty speaking or swallowing
Pain or numbness at the incision site
Loss of muscle tone or range of motion in your face, neck, or arm
Reduced sense of taste, smell, or feeling
Change in appearance
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