Before your operation for nasal and sinus cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Before your operation for nasal and sinus cancer

Men and women discussing nasal and sinus cancer

This page is about what to expect before you have your operation for nasal or paranasal sinus cancer. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Before your operation for nasal and sinus cancer

When you go into hospital for your operation, your surgeon, anaesthetist, physiotherapist, speech therapist, specialist head and neck nurse and dietician will come to talk to you about what will happen.

Your surgeon will explain the operation and tell you what to expect when you come round from the general anaesthetic. If your operation might cause problems with speech, a speech therapist will talk to you about different ways you can communicate afterwards.

It is important to ask as many questions, as you need to. It may help to make a list of questions before you go into hospital to have your surgery. The more you know about what is going to happen, the less frightening it will seem.

Before your operation you will have some tests to check your general health. Your physiotherapist will teach you breathing and leg exercises to do after the operation to help prevent blood clots and chest infections.

If you have recently been finding eating and drinking difficult, you may have fluids through a drip into your arm before your surgery. This will prevent dehydration before your operation. And if you have body hair on your neck, chest or face, you will need a shave before your operation. This reduces the risk of wound infection after your operation.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating nasal cancer section.

 

 

Meeting your multidisciplinary team (MDT)

What happens before your operation will vary slightly depending on exactly where your cancer is and the size of the planned operation. It’s important that you discuss your surgery with your doctor and find out exactly what is going to happen. When you go into hospital for your operation, your surgeon, anaesthetist, physiotherapist, speech therapist, head and neck specialist nurse and dietician will come to talk to you about what will happen.

Your surgeon will explain the operation and tell you what to expect when you come round from the general anaesthetic. If your operation might cause problems with speech, a speech therapist will talk to you about different ways you can communicate afterwards.

It is important to ask as many questions as you need to. It may help to make a list of questions before you go into hospital to have your surgery. There are some suggestions for questions at the end of this section.

The more you know about what is going to happen, the less frightening it will seem. Don’t worry if you think of more questions later. Just speak to your nurses. If they cannot answer your questions, they can contact the doctor to come and talk to you again.

 

Tests before the operation

Generally, before most 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
  • To learn breathing and leg exercises
  • A detailed explanation of what to expect

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 help to make sure you are fit enough to make a good recovery from your surgery.

If the surgeon plans to do a flap you may need some tests of the tissue to be used for the flap. This will be another part of your head or body. The doctors will want to check that this area is healthy and has a good blood supply.

 

Learning breathing and leg exercises

The physiotherapist will teach you breathing and leg exercises. It’s very important that you do these exercises as instructed because they will help you to recover from surgery more quickly. The breathing exercises will help stop chest infections. Leg exercises will help stop blood clots forming in your legs. Both these complications of surgery can happen because you are not moving around as much as you would normally. Your nurses will encourage you to get up and about as soon as possible after your operation. But if you have major surgery you may have to stay in bed for the first day or so.

Below is a short video showing breathing and circulation exercises after surgery. Click on the arrow to watch it.
 

 

 

View a transcript of the video showing breathing and circulation exercises after surgery (opens in new window)

 

Other preparations before your operation

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. Lastly, if you have body hair on your neck, chest or face, you will need a shave before your operation. This reduces the risk of wound infection after your operation. You may have your shave on the ward or in the operating theatre while you are under anaesthetic.

If you smoke, your doctor will encourage you to stop before your operation. Giving up smoking can be very difficult, especially if you have smoked for a long time. But this may help you to recover from treatment faster and help to prevent future cancers. Stopping smoking also helps lower the risk of a chest infection and wound infection after surgery. There is information about how to stop smoking in another part of this website.

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Updated: 5 July 2014