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Changes in your breathing

Find out about possible temporary changes to the way you breathe that you might have due to cancer of the nasal cavity or sinuses.

Breathing through a stoma

Some people need a stoma for a few days after nasal and sinus cancer treatment.

A stoma is a hole, or opening, made in the skin at the front of your neck that allows you to breathe. It is also called a tracheostomy. Through this hole, air enters and leaves your windpipe (trachea) and lungs. 

Diagram showing the position of the stoma after laryngectomy

You might need a stoma if you have surgery to remove and rebuild part of your face. This type of surgery is called a flap repair. But you are only likely to need the stoma until the swelling from the flap repair has gone down and you can breathe normally again through your nose and mouth.

Stoma tubes

The stoma is kept open with a plastic stoma tube that goes down into your airway. Your nurse will keep the tube clean and make sure it doesn't block. Let them know if it becomes difficult to breathe. 


While you have the stoma you won't be able to speak. This can be very frightening and frustrating. It might make you feel as though you have no control over things. The staff will be very aware of this and will visit you often to see if you need anything.

You will have a call bell close by, so that you can call for help whenever you need it. Your nurse will also give you a pen and paper or an electronic device for you to write down or type anything that you want to say. 

Closing the stoma

When the swelling from your operation has gone down your surgeon will remove the stoma tube and you have an operation to close the stoma so that you can breathe normally through your nose again.

Information and help

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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.