Find out about what happens before surgery, the people you will meet, and the exercises you need to do.
What happens before your operation will vary slightly depending on exactly where your cancer is and the type of operation you are having.
Pre assessment clinic
Your pre assessment appointment prepares you for your operation.
You meet members of your treatment team at this appointment and you can sign the consent form to agree to the operation.
Ask lots of questions. It helps to write down all your questions beforehand to take with you. The more you know about what is going to happen, the less frightening it will seem.
You can ask more questions when you go into hospital so don’t worry if you forget to ask some.
At the hospital you might meet:
A member of the surgical team will tell you about:
- the operation you are going to have
- the benefits of having surgery
- the possible risks
- what to expect afterwards
The anaesthetist gives you the anaesthetic and looks after you during the operation. They make sure you’re fit enough for the surgery.
The clinical nurse specialist
The nurse checks your:
- general health
- blood pressure
The nurse also checks what help and support you have to see what you will need when you go home. They are your point of contact and care for you throughout your treatment.
The physiotherapist assesses how well you can move around. They let the doctors know if there is anything that could affect your recovery.
The physiotherapist also teaches you leg and breathing exercises to do after your operation to help with recovery. Learning how to do the exercises beforehand makes it easier afterwards.
The speech therapist
If your operation might cause problems with speech, a speech therapist will talk to you about different ways you can communicate afterwards.
If the surgery might cause problems with eating or drinking you will see a dietitian.
Tests before the operation
Before most types of surgery for nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers, you will need:
- blood tests to check your general health and find out your blood type
- a chest x-ray to check your lungs are healthy
- an ECG to check your heart is healthy
You may have had some of these tests when your cancer was diagnosed. If so, you may not have to repeat them. As well as the tests above, you might also need:
- breathing tests (called lung function tests)
- an ECG while you are exercising
These tests help to make sure you are fit enough to make a good recovery from your surgery.
If the surgeon plans to replace some of the tissue in your face or neck with tissue from another part of the body, you might need to have tests on that tissue. The tests make sure the tissue is healthy and has a good blood supply.
Learning breathing and leg exercises
Breathing exercises help to stop you from getting a chest infection. If you smoke, it helps if you can stop at least a few weeks before your operation.
Leg exercises help to stop clots forming in your legs. You might also have medicines to stop the blood from clotting. You have them as small injections just under the skin. They are heparin, tinzaparin or dalteparin.
You start the injections just before your operation. You might also wear compression stockings.
This 3-minute video shows you how to do the breathing and leg exercises.
Breathing and circulation exercises after surgery
These exercises help prevent you developing a chest infection or blood clots in your legs after surgery. These problems are more likely when you are not moving around as you would normally.
You can do these breathing exercises while sitting up in a chair or in a bed or whilst lying down.
Relax your shoulders and upper chest.
Take a slow, deep, comfortable breath in and hold for a couple of seconds, then slowly breathe out.
Repeat this 3 times.
You can start these breathing exercises as soon as you come round from your anaesthetic.
You should try to do them every hour when awake until you are fully mobile.
If you need to cough, support your wound with your arms, a pillow or a rolled up towel.
If you are struggling to clear any phlegm, try a hu. This is where you breathe out in a short, sharp manner as if you were trying to steam up a mirror.
You should move about as soon as possible after your operation. But while you are not as mobile, try to keep your legs moving to encourage better circulation.
You can do these exercises in a bed or in a chair.
One foot at a time point your toes away from you then pull your toes towards your chin.
Try to do 10 of these on both feet at least 2-3 times an hour.
The next exercise is circling your ankles. One at time circle your ankles, clockwise and then anticlockwise. Repeat this 10 times with each ankle 2-3 times an hour.
The evening before
Your nurse might give you a carbohydrate rich drink to have the evening before the operation. You might also have it on the morning of surgery. The drink gives you energy and can speed up your recovery. Your nurse will check your blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate.
If you have recently been finding eating and drinking difficult, you may have fluids through a drip (intravenous infusion) into your arm before your surgery. This will prevent dehydration before your operation.