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Saturday, December 7, 2013
Head and Neck Cancer
I have a glomus vagale tumor on the left side of my neck with left carotid sheath with anterior displacement of the internal carotid artery and jugular. What can I expect during surgery and after if all goes well?
This is a fairly rare tumor. What to expect is often dependent on the size of the tumor. When these tumors are treated surgically the main risk is injury to some of the cranial nerves. The nerve that is mainly at risk is the Xth cranial nerve which is responsible for the movement of the vocal cord on the same side. It is rarely possible to save this nerve and you are likely to have a vocal cord paralysis.
Again dependent on tumor size other nerves in the area may be at risk. That could affect the movement of your tongue, your throat and soft palate. All of this can affect your ability to speak and swallow and may need rehabilitation. You may also end up with an eye pupil of different size and drooping of the eyelid. You need to know that radiation therapy can also be used to treat these tumors. The potential effects of surgery and treatment alternatives should be discussed with your treating physician.
Pierre Lavertu, MD, FRCS(C), FACS
Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University