Patient Information / Allergy Patient Information
What is a Neck Dissection and Why is it Performed?
Neck dissection is usually performed to remove cancer that has spread to lymph nodes in the neck.
Lymph nodes are small bean shaped glands scattered throughout the body that filter and process lymph fluid from other organs. The immune cells in the lymph nodes help the body fight infection. When cancer cells spread from another part of the body, they may get caught in a lymph node where they grow. An individual might feel a non-tender lump in the neck. The cancer in the lymph node is known as a metastasis. When someone undergoes surgery for cancer that has spread to lymph nodes, both the initial or primary cancer as well as the metastases must be removed.
Neck dissection refers to the removal of lymph nodes and surrounding tissue from the neck for the purpose of cancer treatment. The extent of tissue removal depends on many factors including, the stage of disease which reflects the extent of cancer as well as the type of cancer. The most common cancers removed from lymph nodes in the neck include head and neck squamous cell carcinomas, skin cancers including melanoma and thyroid cancers.. In general, the goal of neck dissection is to remove all the lymph nodes within a predefined anatomic area. Many of the lymph nodes removed during surgery will not prove to have cancer in them.
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