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Scarred for Life?

Posts: 6
Joined: Nov 2009

On December 2, 2009, I am going to have the cancer on my tongue removed, as well as a selective neck dissection. This may be vain, but I am worried about the scar that the selective neck dissection will leave. I'm twenty three years old and the thought of waking up every day to a reminder of the cancer scares me. My surgical oncologist is going to have a plastic surgeon close, but I am still concerned. Its a minor thing compared to the cancer itself but it still bothers me.

Can anyone give me an idea of how it will look and any recommendations on how to minimize the scar?

Kent Cass
Posts: 1898
Joined: Nov 2009

Hello. I am an NPC survivor, with my last rad in early-April. And I plead with you to not concern yourself with the scarring. Your Dr. will do what needs to be done for one of your age. And, yes- being concerned about scarring is vain. Understandable, but vain. No matter what gets done, Beatific, please realize how much more life you have to live, and how shallow the depth of vanity is in regards to how others may view you. Modern medicine can work wonders, and I am sure you will be okay with what gets done on 12/2.
Trust me. You have no idea on how extensive my experience is in regards to scarring, Beatific- 23 Operations over 26 months as a result of a 1968 car accident I was in less than a month before my 14th Birthday. I opted to keep the 4.2" scar on my forehead, and the huge scar on my throat, when I was only 15- and I do not regret those decisions. True, I am a male. Still, what it is that gets done to you- you will emerge from this more beautiful, and truly loveable, than you were before. What you are about to go thru will enrich your life more than any money could buy. Believe this. Just give yourself a chance to believe this, and to never let that belief falter in the least, and you will find that this is true.
Please keep us informed on how you are doing. You might get something from a post I made last night- about FS. His 14-hour Op, which only had to happen due to local Drs. letting his cancer spread and grow farther than it ever should have gone, will make what you will go thru seem much smaller. And, even with all that he went thru, he returned to work less than three months after that long and major Op. Please keep us informed- and do not lose hope. Every cancer survivor, I know, now has you in their prayers. Believe.

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

I concur with your other respondent that it is far more important to get rid of the beast than it is to retain your beauty, to put it in my own words, but it happens that I am a survivor of head/neck cancer myself, beatific: a 15 hour surgery to replace half of my tongue along with what they call a radical neck dissection.

I will be very honest and direct with you: except for the thinness that has occurred as a result of the surgery and subsequent additional treatments (radiation and chemotherapy) it would be hard to tell that I had ever had surgery, unless you were looking at my left arm, from which they took the muscle, tissue, and nerves they used to replace the nasty half of my tongue.

These days, in other words, there is a very real possibility that when your doctors are done, no one will be able to tell that you had surgery, except, probably, for you. I AM a male, so perhaps I don't consider these things so closely, but as far as I can tell, there is a thin line running from my lower lip down my chin (they split my lower face wide open, which will not happen to you), but it is negligible. Otherwise, truly, there is no scarring evident. Only the effects of being inordinately skinny :).

Go for it! I wish you the best and congratulate you now for your survivorship.

Take care,


ratface's picture
Posts: 1319
Joined: Aug 2009

First, such eloquent responses and so true to the point. Bravo, you will be more beautiful than ever. I think we are lucky to be having selective disections vs. radical disections where flaps of skin are used. My surgeon gave me an option of where to place the scar as yours probably has. There is a 20-30 percent chance that without the disection cancer can remain in a lymph node. You are eliminating that with the operation therefore there is no negative side, I much rather have you remain alive and the selective disection is the least invasive. I have a friend with a bilateral radical and you can't tell unless he points it out. Best of luck with your surgery.

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