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Preparing for surgery

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:

The surgeon

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

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
  • weight
  • blood pressure
  • pulse
  • temperature

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

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.

The dietitian

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.

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.

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.

You might have fluids through a drip (intravenous infusion) into your arm before your surgery if you have recently been finding eating and drinking difficult. This will prevent dehydration before your operation.

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.