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Partial Glossectomy?

Posts: 20
Joined: Dec 2012

New to the site. Wondering if anyone can give me any info on what to expect with a partial glossectomy & removal of lymph nodes. My husband was diagnosed with base of the tongue cancer in January 2012. He had 40 radiation treatments and 8 rounds of chemo (erbitux). They thought they had gotten the cancer, but it has continued to grow. So, we were told the only option now is the partial glossectomy. It has been scheduled for the 17th of this month. Any info would be much appreciated. Thanks

longtermsurvivor's picture
Posts: 1845
Joined: Mar 2010

Its a tough situation you guys find yourselves in. This makes you a card carrying memeber of our little group, so welcome. There are varying amounts of tongue removed in what is termed a "partial glossectomy," and depending on how much and where on the tongue we are talking about, the experience can vary quite a bit. Do you know more particulars in terms of where the cancer recurrance is, and what they have planned surgically? This will help direct people's comments on the experience. There are a bunch of people who have had partial glossectomies that post here, so please keep coming back.


Posts: 20
Joined: Dec 2012

All we have been told is that the tumor is 2 centimeters by 2 centimeters on the right side of the tongue growing towards the center. They need to remove beyond that also to make sure they get all the cancer. He will also be having all lymph nodes on both sides of the neck remove and a reconstructive surgeon will be rebuilding his tongue. They are hoping that he will regain the ability to swallow and remain being able to speak. All in all, we have been told it will be a 10-12 hour surgery.

CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4302
Joined: May 2012

Hi Chuckles0504,

Welcome to our group, glad you found us and hope we can answer some of your questions.

I am (or is it was) stage IVa, SCC, BOT, HPV+, one lymph node left side of neck. I had surgery (first) to remove a spot on lower tongue, and a Jugular Vein dissection to remove 1 bad lymph node. Additionally, I had 35 rads and 8 Erbitux treatments.

While our treatments sound similar, yours is evidently more intense. Here’s hoping this surgery does the trick and you can both move on with your life.

I am about 8 ½ months post treatment and feel and do pretty well.



Posts: 20
Joined: Dec 2012

The docs have never given us a stage, but was told cancer was from HPV. I wish they had done the surgery first, but they realy felt they could "cure" this with the chemo and radiation. I am praying the the surgery does work, but the surgeon has given us all the worst case scenarios--like 20% of people never regain the abiity to swallow and the whole speech aspect. Both have my husband exremely scared. Although, he prefers not to really talk or think about it. I, unfortunately, am just the opposite and have spent hours and hours on the internet.

ToBeGolden's picture
Posts: 695
Joined: Aug 2010

I wanted to also welcome you to our little group. Unfortunately, I have little advice; my cancer was confined to the larynx. So, my experiences were different. Rick.

Posts: 20
Joined: Dec 2012

I saw on another board that you were going for a lung biopsy. We went through that right before they scheduled my husband's surgery. A spot on his lung had shown up on a PET scan in July and the spot had grown on the PET he had in October. Docs did not want to operate on tongue until they knew what they were dealing with in his lungs. The waiting after the biopsy was truly the hardest part, but it came back as some strange fungus that is common in the area where we live (Ohio). I hope and pray that you have the same results. Not that I want you to have a fungus! But a fungus is much better news! Take care

NJShore's picture
Posts: 423
Joined: Nov 2012

As you can tell from the number of my posts, I am newer here too. My husband had a left tonsil robotic surgery, where they removed the tonsil fossa and some wall muscle behind it, with his primary tumor. Then the same day and same room, they dissected his left neck and removed 29 lymph nodes and one big goose egg of a tumor. All but 3 lymph nodes were perfectly healthy. Hopefully his rads (start today) and his chemo (starts tomorrow).. Will handle any legacy cells left behind.

My husbands complained about his throat for 2 and 1/2 weeks, never saying anything about his neck, just that it was ok, he couldn't feel it. Most of that is temporary numbness that has since returned, or comes and goes with swelling. What changes I see are, immediately after, I was kind of surprised by the size of the incision, it's long, but will probably not be noticeable in 2 years at all. Then when he first swallowed, his Adam's apple went to the right, rather than up and down for about a week, he was avoiding that left tonsil when swallowing. Since that point, we keep liquid Advil with us, because he has a tendency to swell, since the lymph nodes are no longer there. Not dangerously swelling, but you see it go up and down, and he then struggles more with eating and drinking. Car vibrations are not his friend. He sleeps with his head raised for drainage support of the fluid in his tissues.. It's just looking for a new way to exit.

He didn't shave for 3 weeks, it took a barber to get it all off .. And I bought him a really good wet/dry cordless electric razor, till he can feel his neck better, it's safer.

The neck portion didn't bother him really at all, after 4 weeks he is back to full extension in head turning, etc. just takes time for the body to adjust. Movement swells him up.. It's a balance game he and the couch have been playing.

Nice to meet you... Sorry it is here :)

Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2017

I just joined this group today and hoping that I might be able to get some insight on what to expect.  My mother was recently diagnosed with Tongue Cancer Stage 2 and when we initially met with the Tumor Board, we were advised that it was small enough to remove and the removal of the right lymph node and based on the conversation from the Dr that we spoke with, she gave us the impression that it would be fine and she would have a successful recovery.

However, when speaking with a different surgeon, he was more of a straight shooter and very matter of fact.  He advised her that they would be removing about a quarter of her tongue (right side near the bottom of tongue) which will affect her swallowing, eating and speaking.  She was very surprised and concerned. 

Would anyone happen to have any insight on the recovery and what to expect?

I would appreciate it.  Thanks!

Chicklette's picture
Posts: 171
Joined: Mar 2017

Hi There!

I don't have any insight or answers for your specific question, but wanted to let you know you posted on a very old thread.  You should start a new thread of your own and you will likely get more of a response.  (This thread is over five years old)

I wish you and your mother well on this journey that none of us want to be on!


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