Head and Neck Cancer and Tumor Surgery

Also known as:  surgery for head and neck cancer.

What is head and neck cancer and tumor surgery?

In the pediatric population there are variety of tumors that can originate in the head and neck. Common tumors are lymphoma, salivary tumors and thyroid cancer. At Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, the care for those tumors is approached in multidisciplinary fashion, with expert input from all the needed specialists, including radiologists, surgeons, endocrinologists and oncologists. Multiple treatment modalities may be needed including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, depending upon the organ affected.


What happens during the procedure?

A wide range of surgical approaches are utilized to achieve the goal of removing the abnormal growth, including open and minimally invasive techniques and, on occasion, laser ablation. In thyroid surgery we utilize nerve monitoring to minimize any damage to the nerves that supply the vocal cords.


Is any special preparation needed?

Preparation will vary based on the procedure type. Careful imaging by pediatric radiologists is required. You often need to avoid food and drink, as well as certain medications, in the lead-up to a head and neck cancer and tumor surgery.


What are the risk factors?

Any surgical procedure carries the risks of bleeding, infection and injuring the surrounding structures. Careful monitoring to insure nerve preservation to the voicebox is important and to avoid damage to the glands (parathyroids) in the neck. The chance of the cancer recurrence is related to the type of head and neck cancer or tumor.


What is recovery like?

Usually the patient will be in the hospital one or two nights after surgery, with special attention to pain control. The post-operative treatment will depend on the type of tumor found, and the Nicklaus Children’s team will help shepherd the patient through the long-term care.


Reviewed by: Fuad Alkhoury, MD

This page was last updated on: 11/16/2018 8:37:28 AM

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December Patient of the Month: Charlie

After surviving a high-risk pregnancy with a set of twins, the Strombom’s were faced with yet another complication. Their third child, an unborn baby named Charlie, was diagnosed with a congenital pulmonary airway malformation (CPAM) and underwent two in utero interventions to allow for a full and healthy gestation period. Once delivered, the LifeFlight team from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital was on stand-by to transport Charlie from West Palm Beach to Miami.