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Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2012 Dec;16(6):E203-9. doi: 10.1188/12.CJON.E203-E209.

Postoperative complications in head and neck cancer.

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  • 1School of Nursing, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.


Head and neck cancer (HNC) encompasses several malignancies arising from different structures in the head and neck. The management of HNC is complex and requires multidisciplinary involvement with a range of treatment options that may lead to complications that have negative effects on patient outcomes. This article presents the role of surgery as primary treatment for HNC and describes postoperative complications, factors related to the development of complications, their clinical implications, and management. Comprehensive pre- and postoperative care is crucial in decreasing the incidence of complications and their impact on patient outcomes. Nurse need to be vigilant to prevent, monitor, and care for patients at risk for postoperative complications to decrease their morbidity, enhance their quality of life, and extend survival.

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