Mar 15, 2013 - 6:15 pm
Hi, everyone. I was just diagnosed with metastatic squamous cell carcinoma -- head and neck cancer. I am 59 yr old male in good health...not a smoker or heavy drinker. My lymph nodes on both sides are affected, but they could not identify a primary cancer site through MRI, PET scan or ENT exam. The ENT is recommending more biopsies under general anesthetic including a complete tonsillectomy to improve chances of finding the primary source, but he says there is still only a 20% chance they will find the primary source through this procedure. He says the treatment will likely be chemo-radiation therapy without surgery regardless of what they find, However, he said if they find the primary site they can focus the radiation more directly on the site instead of radiating the entire head and neck. From what I hear, a tonsillectomy is very painful and slow recovery...and it would only be done with a slim chance that it will help identify the primary site. They could still do biopsies of the oral and nasal cavities and the tissue of the tonsil without taking the tonsils out, but taking them increases the chance they will find cancer if it is in the tonsil. Is the tonsillectomy worth it? Does anyone have any experience or information on the pros and cons of the tonsillectomy in this situation?