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Neck dissection

Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2006

I was diagnosed with cancer in the right side of my neck in November 2005. They removed it and I had radiation and chemo finishing in March 2006. I've also had teeth pulled and a peg tube put in, which is good because I haven't been able to swallow anything but water since before March. I had a PetCt scan which showed "suspicious activity" on both sides of my neck. The options were to leave it alone and see what happens or have the lymph nodes removed from both side of my neck. Some choice, huh? Has anyone been through this same thing and if so how did the dissection go and how are you doing now?

Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2006

Hi AlDeb,

I had what was called a "radical neck dissection" on the left side only. I came through it ok. The negative is I lost some mobility in my left arm. They had to cut a nerve which controlled part of my shoulder and left arm. My neck is stiff all the time and movement of my neck to the left is difficult. I usually have to turn from the waist to compensate for the lack of mobility to the left. Sometimes I get shoulder pain. Usually not too bad except for one time in the last 9 years (that's when I had it done.

It was done by a doctor at Brigham's and Women's Hospital and he was affiliated with Dana Farber, where at one time I had 5 or 6 doctors look at me at the same time. My diagnois was squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck with an unknown primary. That meant that although they knew that I had cancer(because I had a lump on my neck and a biopsy was taken determining it was cancerous and it was definitely in my lymph nodes) they never found the source of the cancer

Sounds like you have a choice and your doing the right thing evaluating your choices. My case turned out good overall, but every case seems to be different and everyone's body is different too.

I have included a link and one part of the article explains the different types of neck dissection. You should do as much research as you can, keep a positive attitude, pray and make your decision.


You're in my prayers.


Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2006

Hi I'm a 46 year old male. I had a neck dissection on the right side of my neck on Feburary 17th , 2006. They removed 17 lymph nodes. I then had 35 radiation treatments which were completed on June 21, 2006.

Today I have a lot of stiffness in my neck. My swallowing is ok but different from before. I sometimes choke when eating and drinking, but not often. I just have to be more carefull then before the surgery. I have some pain in my right ear and along the scar on my neck. The skin on my neck is very tight. I also have some slight pain in the back of my neck and head on the right side.

In my case the optons were to have the surgery or eventually die from the cancer, so it was a no brainer for me.

Posts: 9
Joined: Jul 2006

Hi AlDeb,

I just wanted to let you know that when I had my radical neck dissection the doctor told me in advance that he would be cutting a nerve in my neck which would limit my mobility in my left arm. You should discuss with a surgeon what exactly he will be doing in the surgery. You might not have to have what I had done.

My surgery was 9 years ago. Things may have changed.


Aussie00's picture
Posts: 5
Joined: Aug 2006

Hi AIDeband Eugene389,
I have just had a radical neck dissection here in Australia on the 20th July 06.
They now can use an accessory nerve and join it to the nerve they cut so that you have 90%to 100% mobility after physiotherapy.
I am still somewhat weak but have a full range of motion.
The scarring is limited if you use a plastic surgeon to 'Close' your wound.
I was lucky that my surgeon is an Associate professor Head and Neck surgeon and a plastic surgeon. (I shopped around for the best in this country).
my web page explains more (Aussie00)
Drop me an e-mail if you like
Good luck

Posts: 7
Joined: Aug 2006

My Dad (he's 69) (finished his 7 week treatment June 2) also thinking of what to do. Neck Dissection or not. The dr wants to do a mod radical on one side and mod mod on the other. We are off to get a PET scan this week; but in Canada they don't recognize them; so it will be up to my Dad. We are confused and scared and not sure what to do. The base of tongue tumour is gone and the nodes shrunk 50%.

Any info would be great,

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Wow. I'm out of my league here...I don't know exactly what to call what happened to me. Basically, I was carved from the middle of my lower lip down and right to my shoulder beneath my ear, and my jaw was moved aside so that doctors could remove half my tongue and quite a bit of my neck, along with seven lymph nodes on the right side of my neck. If that ain't dissection, I can live with that. If it is, I can tell you that my doctors were able to use the donor site to extract not just tissue but nerves...and to attach them to existing nerves in the shoulder, so that the "new" half of my tongue and neck would have feeling. They were successful in that regard. In addition, people who have known me for a long time marvel that they can hardly tell any surgery was done at all - much less a 15 hour job... and this without benefit of a plastic surgeon. Even other doctors - and my dentist - are in awe of what was accomplished, how I am doing and the minimal impact on appearance. It is true that I still don't eat in public and learned only through this experience how important that is...but you already know that. But I am alive and I am able to smile and laugh and, yes, despair and moan as well... but I am alive.

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