I have surgery coming up on September 2 to take out a lymph node in my neck and probably one of my parotid glands. These glands are what get swollen when you have the mumps.

Parotid Gland

Dr. Cichon, who will be doing the deed, trained at the May Clinic. Here’s what their site says about a parotidectomy:

The parotid glands are the body’s largest salivary glands. Located in front of the ears, the parotid glands extend to the area beneath the earlobe along the lower border of the jawbone. About 80 percent of salivary gland tumors are found in the parotid gland. Only about 20 percent of parotid gland tumors are malignant. (Lucky me!)

Treatment of a parotid tumor generally requires removing the parotid gland (parotidectomy). The surgery can be complicated because a nerve controlling facial movement runs through the gland. Mayo specialists do not recommend the removal of just the parotid tumor (lumpectomy) because microscopic tumor cells can remain in the wound, causing the tumor to recur.

What also passes through the parotid gland besides the facial nerve are the external carotid artery and the retromandibular vein, which is why you want a steady hand on the scalpel.

The procedure will include doing biopsies of surrounding tissue to look for the origin of the cancer and making sure it isn’t traveling along the major nerves. If it is, they will be removed.

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