Changes in your breathing

You might have temporary changes to the way you breathe depending on the treatment you've had for nasal or paranasal sinus cancer.

Breathing through a stoma

Some people need a stoma for a few days after nasal and paranasal 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 the structures in your face. This type of surgery is called a flap repair. But you are only likely to need the stoma until you can breathe normally again through your nose and mouth. This is once the swelling from the flap repair has gone down.

Stoma tubes

A plastic stoma tube keeps the stoma open. It 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. 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. You then have an operation to close the stoma so that you can breathe normally through your nose again.

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