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Tongue Cancer Surgery

Posts: 6
Joined: Jul 2009

This is my first day on any message board so I am not sure what to expect.
I am scheduled to have Tongue cancer surgery (removal of half my tongue) and removal of 2 lymph nodes on July 20. My doctor said the surgery would take about 6 hours with a post-recovery period of 7-10 days.
I have read some replies to other posts that others have had similar surgeries. I would appreciate any information on what to expect from the surgery, recovery period and rehab.
I have had rediation treatments (39) and chemotherapy treatments (11). But there is still cancer tumor present.

Posts: 21
Joined: Jun 2009

hi chuck--

my mom had this surgery last month so i can share a bit of info.

from what you already know, it's right on. of course everyone is different, so keep that in mind. mom was pretty text book with her surgery.

pre-op: the nurses will prep you for surgery and you'll also see the anthesiologist. they'll put in your IV and do all the before surgery prepping. in our case, i was allowed to go into pre-op with mom. the minute they wheeled her into surgery, i went into the waiting room. again, in our case, they assign patients a number so family can be kept abreast on the surgery via a status board by looking for your number.

check to see if you'll be getting a peg-tube put in during surgery. this has been a god-send for mom as all her nutrition is given to her this way.

they will probably put a trach in (ask docs!) for you.... everything will be very swollen.

once surgery is complete, you'll go into post-op. you may be there a couple of hours before you're ready to get into your room. the doc will go see your family after surgery and give them the cliffnotes of surgery, etc.

in mom's case, she was awake, but sorta loopy for several more hours. mom's surgery was at 8:45am, ended at 3pm. she was in post-op until 5pm, then went into her room. her anesthesia didn't clear completely until around midnight that night.

when i saw her, she was in bed with IV, drains and monitors... she had 6 'lines' coming from her body altogether. looks scary but all are necessary! the other strange thing is that your tongue will be sticking out of your mouth a bit... remember, it's been traumatized and according to my mom, felt like a big ole balloon.

one thing that helped us was taking mom's laptop to the hospital. they'll give you a whiteboard to write on.... because you cannot talk.... but we found ours lasted about a night!! :) mom could type faster than we could clean the whiteboard and have her write on it.

the hospital stay will depend on your healing and what arrangements are necessary for you at home. by the time mom was discharged (day 8), her trach had been removed and she could talk again.... but she wears dentures-- and that's a no-no for months, so it took some good listening skills to understand her between no teeth and the swelling that was still there. during your stay, they'll remove drains and monitors as your body heals.

mom's tongue fit nicely back in her mouth on day 2 of being home. i was trained by hospital staff for feeding tube issues, etc. and we qualified for home healthcare for awhile so we had a nurse swing by once a week to keep an eye on my 'nursing' her back to health.

it's been just over a month now and mom's doing great. i hope this helps a little!

i wish you the best of successes,


Posts: 6
Joined: Jul 2009

Thanks for your information, makes me feel a little less worried.
I already have a peg tube and yes they told me I will be having a tracheostomy (and hopefully out before being discharged from the hospital.
I'm glad to hear your mother is doing great and I'm hoping that mine at least goes well.
Thanks again and very much appreciate you responding with very good information.

SASH's picture
Posts: 403
Joined: Apr 2006

They may dye the liquid nutrition for the first few days take make sure when you are getting your nutrition that it doesn't back up. This will cause your waste to be that color. I was crapping smurf blue for days.

When you get the tracheotomy they might say that you will be awake for this. They told me this and I said "WHAT?" They ended up doing it when I was asleep but with the understanding that they might have to wake me up to put it in. Luckily this didn't happen.

Also don't joke around with the doctor when he asks to see if you can breathe without the use of the trache. When the doctor asked me, because I am a bit of a jokester, I covered the tube and then immediately rolled my eyes back as if I died. He threatened me with a 72 hour hold in the psych ward.

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thennies61's picture
Posts: 285
Joined: Jan 2014

I also am due for surgery on Jan 30th.But on the 16th they are doing an exploratory operation .I had a petscan and just had cat scan also.Was seen by my ent doctor and he referred to a surgen that did wanted the cat and wants to the exploratory which I'm not sure why.He did talk about a trac tube and food tube and said it is pretty standard.With mine I just thought it was some kind of growth which started last Aug but by Nov never cleared up no matter what I did.Still alittle confusing since I have no pain or blood just feels like something is stuck.Is there anything else I can count on them doing.

debbiejeanne's picture
Posts: 3095
Joined: Jan 2010

this is a very old thread/post.  copy and paste your question/info into a new thread so it isn't overlooked.  you will get lots of replies then.


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