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Common Side Effects after Surgery for Oral Cancer

Most people can go home within several days after surgery for oral cancer. It will most likely take you a few weeks to feel better. Here are some of the things you can expect during your recovery. They are listed from the most to least common:

  • Pain in the area of the surgery

  • Numbness in your mouth or neck

  • Difficulty swallowing, eating, or talking

  • Fatigue

  • Occasionally, infection, bleeding, or oozing from the cut

  • Shoulder weakness, which can occasionally occur after removal of lymph nodes from your neck

  • Rarely, difficulty breathing

Most of these side effects are temporary. Your doctor or nurse can help you learn how to cope with them. Before you leave the hospital, make sure you talk with your doctor about how to recognize the signs of a serious problem. In general, people who have surgery for oral cancer can get back to their normal activities after a couple of weeks.

Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 11/29/2013
© 2013 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
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