This guide will help you get ready for your salivary gland surgery at MSK. It will also help you know what to expect as you recover.
Use this guide as a source of information in the days leading up to your surgery. Bring it with you on the day of your surgery. You and your care team will use it as you learn more about your
About Your Surgery
About your salivary glands
Your salivary glands make saliva, which helps your body digest food and keeps your mouth moist. Most of your saliva comes from your parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands (see Figure 1). There are also hundreds of smaller salivary glands in your mouth. They’re located under the membranes that line your mouth and throat.
Your facial nerve runs through your parotid glands. This nerve controls the muscles in your face. These muscles let you make movements such as raising your eyebrows, closing your eyelids, and smiling. Most tumors found in the parotid gland are benign (not cancerous).
Your submandibular glands are the second largest of your salivary glands. They’re located below your mandible (jawbone) (see Figure 1). Most tumors found in the submandibular gland are benign.
The sublingual glands are the smallest of your salivary glands. They’re located on either side of your tongue, in the floor of your mouth (see Figure 1). Most tumors found in the sublingual gland are benign.
About salivary gland surgery
You’ll still be able to make saliva after your surgery.
The type of surgery you have depends on the location of your salivary gland tumors. Your surgeon will tell you which surgery you’re having. Here are descriptions of the different types of surgery:
Parotid gland surgery
Parotid gland tumors are the most common type of salivary gland tumor. There are 2 types of parotid gland tumors:
- A superficial parotid gland tumor develops in the part of the gland that’s over your facial nerve.
- A deep lobe parotid gland tumor develops in the part of the gland that’s under your facial nerve.
Surgery to treat parotid gland tumors is very precise. Your facial nerve must be protected during surgery. The goal is to remove the entire tumor without harming your facial nerve.
Your surgeon will use a nerve monitor to find your facial nerve. Then they will make an incision (surgical cut) in the front of your ear, down into your neck. They will separate your facial nerve and its branches from your parotid gland tumor. Your surgeon will remove the parotid gland tumor and send it to the Pathology Department to see if it contains cancer cells. Then they will close your incision with sutures (stitches).
Submandibular gland surgery
Your surgeon will make an incision in your upper neck, along your jaw. They’ll remove the tumor through this incision and send it to the Pathology Department to see if it contains cancer cells. Then, they’ll close your incision with sutures or Steri-Strips™ (surgical tape).
Sublingual gland surgery
Sublingual gland tumors are rare. Your surgeon will tell you your options for treating this tumor.
Facial changes after surgery
- You may have some facial changes after your surgery. The types of changes depend on the surgery you had. Your doctor and nurse will talk with you about what to expect.
- You may have some weakness in your facial muscles after your surgery. This is because your facial nerve was irritated during your surgery. Unfortunately, we can’t prevent this. Facial weakness is usually minimal and gets better over weeks or months. If you have facial weakness, tell your nurse. They can refer you to a physical therapist.
- You may have some lower lip weakness, which may affect your smile. This may be permanent on your affected side (the side where your surgery took place).
- You may not be able to fully close your eye on your affected side. You’ll get ointment and eye drops to protect your eye.
- If you had parotid gland surgery, you may have some numbness of the earlobe on your affected side. This may be permanent.
Getting Ready for Your Surgery
This section will help you get ready for your surgery. Read it when your surgery is scheduled. Refer to it as your surgery gets closer. It has important information about what to do to get ready.
As you read through this section, write down questions to ask your healthcare provider.
Getting ready for surgery
You and your care team will work together to get ready for your surgery. Help us keep you safe by telling us if any of these things apply to you, even if you’re not sure.
I take a anticoagulant (blood thinner), such as:These are examples of medicines. There are others.
Be sure your healthcare provider knows all the medicines you’re taking.
- Warfarin (Jantoven®, Coumadin®)
- Clopidogrel (Plavix®)
- Enoxaparin (Lovenox®)
- Dabigatran (Pradaxa®)
- Apixaban (Eliquis®)
- Rivaroxaban (Xarelto®)
I take an SGLT2 inhibitor, such as:
- Canagliflozin (Invokana®)
- Dapagliflozin (Farxiga®)
- Empagliflozin (Jardiance®)
- Ertugliflozin (Steglatro®)
- I take prescription medicine(s), including patches and creams. A prescription medicine is one you can only get with a prescription from your healthcare provider.
- I take over-the-counter medicine(s), including patches and creams. An over-the-counter medicine is one you can buy without a prescription from your healthcare provider.
- I take dietary supplements, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, or natural or home remedies.
- I have a pacemaker, automatic implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (AICD), or other heart device.
- I have sleep apnea.
- I have had a problem with anesthesia (A-nes-THEE-zhuh) in the past. Anesthesia is medicine to you sleep during a surgery or procedure.
- I’m allergic to certain medicines or materials, including latex.
- I’m not willing to receive a blood transfusion.
- I drink alcohol.
- I smoke or use an electronic smoking device, such as a vape pen or e-cigarette.
- I use recreational drugs, such as marijuana.
About drinking alcohol
It’s important to talk with your healthcare providers about how much alcohol you drink. This will help us plan your care.
If you drink alcohol regularly, you may be at risk for problems during and after your surgery. These include bleeding, infections, heart problems, and a longer hospital stay.
If you drink alcohol regularly and stop suddenly, it can cause seizures, delirium, and death. If we know you’re at risk for these problems, we can prescribe medicine to help prevent them.
Here are things you can do before your surgery to keep from having problems.
- Be honest with your healthcare providers about how much alcohol you drink.
Try to stop drinking alcohol once your surgery is planned. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you:
- Get a headache.
- Feel nauseous (like you’re going to throw up).
- Feel more anxious (nervous or worried) than usual.
- Cannot sleep.
These are early signs of alcohol withdrawal and can be treated.
- Tell your healthcare provider if you cannot stop drinking.
- Ask your healthcare provider questions about drinking and surgery. All your medical information will be kept private, as always.
If you smoke, you can have breathing problems when you have surgery. Stopping for even a few days before your surgery can help.
About sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a common breathing problem. If you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing for short lengths of time while you’re asleep. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With OSA, your airway becomes fully blocked during sleep.
OSA can cause serious problems during and after surgery. Tell us if you have or think you might have sleep apnea. If you use a breathing device, such as a CPAP machine, bring it on the day of your surgery.
MyMSK (my.mskcc.org) is your MSK patient portal. You can use it to send and read messages from your care team, view your test results, see your appointment dates and times, and more. You can also invite your caregiver to make their own account so they can see information about your care.
Watch How to Enroll in MyMSK: Memorial Sloan Kettering's Patient Portal to learn more. You can also contact the MyMSK Help Desk by emailing [email protected] or calling 800-248-0593.
Within 30 days of your surgery
Presurgical testing (PST)
You’ll have a PST appointment before your surgery. You’ll get a reminder from your surgeon’s office with the appointment date, time, and location.
You can eat and take your usual medicine(s) the day of your PST appointment.
It’s helpful to bring these things to your appointment:
- A list of all the medicines you’re taking, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, patches, and creams.
- Results of any medical tests done outside of MSK in the past year, if you have them. Examples include results from a cardiac stress test, echocardiogram, or carotid doppler study.
- The names and telephone numbers of your healthcare providers.
You’ll meet with an advance practice provider (APP) during your PST appointment. They work closely with MSK’s anesthesiology (A-nes-THEE-zee-AH-loh-jee) staff. These are healthcare providers with special training in using anesthesia during a surgery or procedure.
Your APP will review your medical and surgical history with you. You may have tests to plan your care, such as:
- An electrocardiogram (EKG) to check your heart rhythm.
- A chest X-ray.
- Blood tests.
Your APP may recommend you see other healthcare providers. They’ll also talk with you about which medicine(s) to take the morning of your surgery.
Identify your caregiver
Your caregiver plays an important role in your care. Before your surgery, you and your caregiver will learn about your surgery from your healthcare providers. After your surgery, your caregiver will take you home when you’re discharged. They’ll also help you care for yourself at home.
Fill out a Health Care Proxy form
If you have not already filled out a Health Care Proxy form, we recommend you do now. If you already filled one out or have any other advance directives, bring them to your next appointment.
A health care proxy is a legal document. It says who will speak for you if you cannot communicate for yourself. This person is called your health care agent.
- To learn about health care proxies and other advance directives, read Advance Care Planning .
- To learn about being a health care agent, read How to Be a Health Care Agent .
Talk with a member of your care team if you have questions about filling out a Health Care Proxy form.
Do breathing and coughing exercises
Practice taking deep breaths and coughing before your surgery. Your healthcare provider will give you an incentive spirometer to help expand your lungs. To learn more, read How To Use Your Incentive Spirometer .
Do physical activity
Doing physical activity will help your body get into its best condition for your surgery. It will also make your recovery faster and easier.
Try to do physical activity every day. Any activity that makes your heart beat faster, such as walking, swimming, or biking, is a good choice. If it’s cold outside, use stairs in your home or go to a mall or shopping center.
Follow a healthy diet
Follow a well-balanced, healthy diet before your surgery. If you need help with your diet, talk with your healthcare provider about meeting with a clinical dietitian nutritionist.
7 days before your surgery
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for taking aspirin
Aspirin can cause bleeding. If you take aspirin or a medicine that has aspirin, you may need to change your dose or stop taking it 7 days before your surgery. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Do not stop taking aspirin unless they tell you to.
To learn more, read Common Medications Containing Aspirin, Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), or Vitamin E . You can find it in the “Educational resources” section of this guide.
Stop taking vitamin E, multivitamins, herbal remedies, and other dietary supplements
Vitamin E, multivitamins, herbal remedies, and other dietary supplements can cause bleeding. Stop taking them 7 days before your surgery. If your healthcare provider gives you other instructions, follow those instead.
To learn more, read Herbal Remedies and Cancer Treatment .
2 days before your surgery
Stop taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil® and Motrin®) and naproxen (Aleve®), can cause bleeding. Stop taking them 2 days before your surgery. If your healthcare provider gives you other instructions, follow those instead.
1 day before your surgery
Note the time of your surgery
A staff member will call you after the day before your surgery. If your surgery is scheduled for a Monday, they’ll call you the Friday before. If you do not get a call by , call 212-639-5014.
The staff member will tell you what time to get to the hospital for your surgery. They’ll also remind you where to go.
This will be one of the following locations:
The Presurgical Center (PSC) at Memorial Hospital
1275 York Avenue (between East 67th and East 68th Streets)
New York, NY 10065
Take the M elevator to the 2nd floor.
The Presurgical Center (PSC) at Memorial Hospital
1275 York Ave. (between East 67th and East 68th streets)
New York, NY 10065
Take the B elevator to the 6th floor.
Instructions for eating before your surgery
Do not eat anything after midnight (12 a.m.) the night before your surgery. This includes hard candy and gum.
The morning of your surgery
Instructions for drinking before your surgery
You can drink a total of 12 ounces of water between midnight (12 a.m.) and 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time. Do not drink anything else.
Do not drink anything starting 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time. This includes water.
Take your medications as instructed
A member of your care team will tell you which medications to take the morning of your surgery. Take only those medications with a sip of water. Depending on what medications you take, this may be all, some, or none of your usual morning medications.
Things to remember
- Wear something comfortable and loose-fitting.
- If you wear contact lenses, wear your glasses instead. Wearing contact lenses during surgery can damage your eyes.
- Do not wear any metal objects. Take off all jewelry, including body piercings. The tools used during your surgery can cause burns if they touch metal.
- Leave valuable items at home.
- If you’re menstruating (have your monthly period), use a sanitary pad, not a tampon. We’ll give you disposable underwear and a pad if you need them.
What to bring
- Your breathing device for sleep apnea (such as your CPAP machine), if you have one.
- Your Health Care Proxy form and other advance directives, if you filled them out.
- Your cell phone and charger.
- Only the money you may want for small purchases, such as a newspaper.
- A case for your personal items, if you have any. Eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures, prosthetic devices, wigs, and religious articles are examples of personal devices.
- This guide. You’ll use it to learn how to care for yourself after surgery.
Where to park
MSK’s parking garage is on East 66th Street between York and 1st avenues. If you have questions about prices, call 212-639-2338.
To get to the garage, turn onto East 66th Street from York Avenue. The garage is about a quarter of a block in from York Avenue. It’s on the right (north) side of the street. There’s a tunnel you can walk through that connects the garage to the hospital.
There are other parking garages on:
- East 69th Street between 1st and 2nd avenues.
- East 67th Street between York and 1st avenues.
- East 65th Street between 1st and 2nd avenues.
Once you’re in the hospital
Many staff members will ask you to say and spell your name and birth date. This is for your safety. People with the same or a similar name may be having surgery on the same day.
We’ll give you a hospital gown, robe, and nonskid socks to wear when it’s time to change for surgery.
Meet with a nurse
You’ll meet with a nurse before surgery. Tell them the dose of any medicines you took after midnight (12 a.m.) and the time you took them. Make sure to include prescription and over-the-counter medicines, patches, and creams.
Your nurse may place an intravenous (IV) line in one of your veins, usually in your arm or hand. If your nurse does not place the IV, your anesthesiologist (A-nes-THEE-zee-AH-loh-jist) will do it in the operating room.
Meet with an anesthesiologist
You’ll also meet with an anesthesiologist before surgery. They will:
- Review your medical history with you.
- Ask you if you’ve had any problems with anesthesia in the past, such as nausea or pain.
- Talk with you about your comfort and safety during your surgery.
- Talk with you about the kind of anesthesia you’ll get.
- Answer your questions about your anesthesia.
Get ready for surgery
When it’s time for your surgery, you’ll take off your eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures, prosthetic devices, wig, and religious articles.
You’ll either walk into the operating room or a staff member will bring you there on a stretcher. A member of the operating room team will help you onto the operating bed. They’ll put compression boots on your lower legs. These gently inflate and deflate to help blood flow in your legs.
Once you’re comfortable, your anesthesiologist will give you anesthesia through your IV line and you’ll fall asleep. You’ll also get fluids through your IV line during and after your surgery.
During your surgery
After you’re fully asleep, your care team will place a breathing tube through your mouth into your airway. It will help you breathe. They’ll also place a urinary (Foley) catheter in your bladder. It will drain your urine (pee) during your surgery.
They may also place Steri-Strips™ (thin pieces of surgical tape) or Dermabond® (surgical glue) over your incisions. They’ll cover your incisions with a bandage.
Your breathing tube is usually taken out while you’re still in the operating room.
Recovering after your surgery
This section will help you know what to expect after your surgery. You’ll learn how to safely recover from your surgery both in the hospital and at home.
As you read through this section, write down questions to ask your healthcare provider.
In the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)
You’ll be in the PACU when you wake up after your surgery. A nurse will be keeping track of your temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. You may get oxygen through a tube resting below your nose or a mask over your nose and mouth. You’ll also have compression boots on your lower legs.
Tubes and drains
You may have one or more of the following:
- Drainage tubes near your incision. These help drain fluid from your surgical wound. If you have drainage tubes, they’ll be removed before you’re discharged from the hospital.
- A face mask and humidifier to keep your airway moist.
Moving to your hospital room
You may stay in the PACU for a few hours or overnight. How long you stay depends on the type of surgery you had. A staff member will bring you to your hospital room after your stay in the PACU.
In your hospital room
The length of time you’re in the hospital after your surgery depends on your recovery. Most people stay in the hospital for 1 to 4 days.
In your hospital room, you’ll meet one of the nurses who will care for you during your stay. A nurse will help you out of bed and into your chair soon after you get there.
Your healthcare providers will teach you how to care for yourself while you’re healing from your surgery.
Managing your pain
Most people have very little pain after this surgery. You’ll probably have numbness, but it will go away with time.
At first, you’ll get pain medication through your IV line. Once you’re able to eat, you’ll get oral pain medication (medication you swallow). Your doctor and nurse will ask you about your pain often and give you medication as needed. If your pain isn’t relieved, tell your doctor or nurse.
You may be given a prescription for pain medication before you leave the hospital. Talk with your doctor or nurse about possible side effects and when you should start switching to over-the-counter pain medications.
Moving around and walking
Moving around and walking will help lower your risk for blood clots and pneumonia (lung infection). It will also help you start passing gas and having bowel movements (pooping) again. Your nurse, physical therapist, or occupational therapist will help you move around, if needed.
To learn more about how walking after surgery can help you recover, read Frequently Asked Questions About Walking After Your Surgery .
To learn what you can do to stay safe and keep from falling while you’re in the hospital, read Call! Don't Fall! .
Exercising your lungs
It’s important to exercise your lungs so they expand fully. This helps prevent pneumonia.
- Use your incentive spirometer 10 times every hour you’re awake. Read How To Use Your Incentive Spirometer to learn more.
- Do coughing and deep breathing exercises. A member of your care team will teach you how.
Eating and drinking
Most people can go back to following their usual diet soon after surgery.
Some people follow a mechanical soft diet right after surgery. A mechanical soft diet is made up of foods that need less chewing than in a regular diet. If you’ll need to follow this diet, your nurse will give you more information.
If you have questions about your diet, ask to see a clinical dietitian nutritionist.
Leaving the hospital
Before you leave, look at your incision with one of your healthcare providers. Knowing what it looks like will help you notice any changes later.
On the day of your discharge, plan to leave the hospital around
Your healthcare provider will write your discharge order and prescriptions before you leave. You’ll also get written discharge instructions. One of your healthcare providers will review them with you before you leave.
If your ride isn’t at the hospital when you’re ready to leave, you may be able to wait in the Patient Transition Lounge. A member of your care team will give you more information.
Read What You Can Do to Avoid Falling to learn what you can do to keep from falling at home and during your appointments at MSK.
Filling out your Recovery Tracker
We want to know how you’re feeling after you leave the hospital. To help us care for you, we’ll send questions to your MyMSK account. We’ll send them every day for 10 days after you’re discharged. These questions are known as your Recovery Tracker.
Fill out your Recovery Tracker every day before midnight (12 a.m.). It only takes 2 to 3 minutes to complete. Your answers to these questions will help us understand how you’re feeling and what you need.
Based on your answers, we may reach out to you for more information. Sometimes, we may ask you to call your surgeon’s office. You can always contact your surgeon’s office if you have any questions.
To learn more, read About Your Recovery Tracker .
Managing your pain
People have pain or discomfort for different lengths of time. You may still have some pain when you go home and will probably be taking pain medication. Some people have soreness, tightness, or muscle aches around their incision for 6 months or longer. This doesn’t mean something is wrong.
Follow these guidelines to help manage your pain at home.
- Take your medicine(s) as directed and as needed.
- Call your healthcare provider if the medicine prescribed for you does not help your pain.
- Do not drive or drink alcohol while you’re taking prescription pain medicine. Some prescription pain medicines can make you drowsy (very sleepy). Alcohol can make the drowsiness worse.
You’ll have less pain and need less pain medicine as your incision heals. An over-the-counter pain reliever will help with aches and discomfort. Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) are examples of over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for stopping your prescription pain medicine.
- Do not take too much of any medicine. Follow the instructions on the label or from your healthcare provider.
- Read the labels on all the medicines you’re taking. This is very important if you’re taking acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is an ingredient in many over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Taking too much can harm your liver. Do not take more than one medicine that has acetaminophen without talking with a member of your care team.
- Pain medicine should help you get back to your normal activities. Take enough to do your activities and exercises comfortably. You may have a little more pain as you start to be more active.
Keep track of when you take your pain medicine. It works best 30 to 45 minutes after you take it. Taking it when you first have pain is better than waiting for the pain to get worse.
Caring for your incision
The location of your incision will depend on the type of surgery you had. It’s normal for the skin below your incision to feel numb. This happens because some of your nerves were cut during your surgery. The numbness will go away over time.
You might notice a small amount of fluid draining from your incision. This is normal for the first couple of days after surgery. If the drainage is thick or pus-like, call your healthcare provider.
If you go home with sutures in your incision, your healthcare provider will take them out during your first appointment after surgery, about 7 to 10 days after you leave the hospital. It’s okay to get them wet.
If you go home with Steri-Strips or Dermabond on your incision, they’ll loosen and fall or peel off by themselves. If they haven’t fallen off within 10 days, you can take them off.
You can shower 24 hours after your drains have been removed.
Taking a warm shower is relaxing and can help decrease muscle aches. Let the soapy water from your hair or head run over your incision. It’s best to avoid putting soap directly on your incision.
Pat the areas dry with a towel after showering, and leave your incision uncovered, unless there’s drainage. Call your doctor if you see any redness or thick, pus-like drainage from your incision.
Physical activity and exercise
Your incision may look like it’s healed on the outside when you leave the hospital. It will not be healed on the inside. For the first 2 weeks after your surgery:
- Do not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms).
- Do not do any high-energy activities, such as jogging and tennis.
- Do not play any contact sports, such as football.
Doing physical activity, such as walking and stair climbing, will help you gain strength and feel better. Try to 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity at least 2 to 3 times a day. For example, you can walk outside or indoors at your local mall or shopping center.
It’s common to have less energy than usual after surgery. Recovery time is different for everyone. Do more activity each day as much as you can. Always balance activity periods with rest periods. Rest is an important part of your recovery.
Ask your healthcare provider when you can drive. Most people can start driving again 7 to 10 days after surgery. Do not drive while you’re taking pain medication that may make you drowsy.
You can ride in a car as a passenger at any time after you leave the hospital.
Going back to work
Talk with your healthcare provider about your job. They’ll tell you when it may be safe for you to start working again based on what you do. If you move around a lot or lift heavy objects, you may need to stay out a little longer. If you sit at a desk, you may be able to go back sooner.
Your first appointment after surgery will be 7 to 10 days after you leave the hospital. Your nurse will give you instructions on how to make this appointment, including the phone number to call.
Test results are usually ready in 1 week, but they can take longer depending on the exact tests that are done. Your doctor will talk with you about your results during your first follow-up appointment after your surgery.
Managing your feelings
You may have new and upsetting feelings after a surgery for a serious illness. Many people say they felt weepy, sad, worried, nervous, irritable, or angry at one time or another. You may find that you cannot control some of these feelings. If this happens, it’s a good idea to seek emotional support. Your healthcare provider can refer you to MSK’s Counseling Center. You can also reach them by calling 646-888-0200.
The first step in coping is to talk about how you feel. Family and friends can help. We can also reassure, support, and guide you. It’s always a good idea to let us know how you, your family, and your friends are feeling emotionally. Many resources are available to you and your family. We’re here to help you and your family and friends handle the emotional aspects of your illness. We can help no matter if you’re in the hospital or at home.
When to Call Your Healthcare Provider
Call your healthcare provider right away if:
- You have a fever of 100.5 °F (38 °C) or higher.
- You have chills.
- You’re having trouble breathing.
- The skin around your incision is very red or getting more red.
- The skin around your incision is warmer than usual.
- The area around your incision is starting to swell or getting more swollen.
- You see drainage that looks like pus (thick and milky).
- Your incision smells bad.
- You have any questions or concerns.
Monday through Friday from to , contact your healthcare provider’s office.
After , during the weekend, and on holidays, call 212-639-2000 and ask to speak to the person on call for your healthcare provider.
This section has a list of support services. They may help you as you get ready for your surgery and recover after your surgery.
As you read through this section, write down questions to ask your healthcare provider.
MSK support services
Call if you have questions about your hospital admission, such as asking for a private room.
Many people find that counseling helps them. Our Counseling Center offers counseling for individuals, couples, families, and groups. We can also prescribe medicine to help if you feel anxious or depressed. Ask a member of your care team for a referral or call the number above to make an appointment.
Food Pantry Program
We give food to people in need during their cancer treatment. Talk with a member of your care team or call the number above to learn more.
Integrative Medicine Service
Our Integrative Medicine Service offers many services to complement (go along with) traditional medical care. For example, we offer music therapy, mind/body therapies, dance and movement therapy, yoga, and touch therapy. Call 646-449-1010 to make an appointment for these services.
You can also schedule a consultation with a healthcare provider in the Integrative Medicine Service. They’ll work with you to make a plan for creating a healthy lifestyle and managing side effects. Call 646-608-8550 to make an appointment for a consultation.
You can visit our library website or call to talk with the library reference staff. They can help you find more information about a type of cancer. You can also visit the library’s Patient and Health Care Consumer Education Guide.
Our Nutrition Service offers nutritional counseling with one of our clinical dietitian nutritionists. Your clinical dietitian nutritionist will talk with you about your eating habits. They can also give advice on what to eat during and after treatment. Ask a member of your care team for a referral or call the number above to make an appointment.
Patient and Community Education
Visit our patient and community education website to search for educational resources, videos, and online programs.
Call if you have questions about preauthorization with your insurance company. This is also called preapproval.
Patient Representative Office
Call if you have questions about the Health Care Proxy form or concerns about your care.
Perioperative Nurse Liaison
Call if you have questions about MSK releasing any information while you’re having surgery.
Private Duty Nurses and Companions
You can request private nurses or companions to care for you in the hospital and at home. Call to learn more.
Cancers and cancer treatments can make your body feel weak, stiff, or tight. Some can cause lymphedema (swelling). Our physiatrists (rehabilitation medicine doctors), occupational therapists (OTs), and physical therapists (PTs) can help you get back to your usual activities.
- Rehabilitation medicine doctors diagnose and treat problems that affect how you move and do activities. They can design and help coordinate your rehabilitation therapy program, either at MSK or somewhere closer to home. Call Rehabilitation Medicine (Physiatry) at 646-888-1929 to learn more.
- An OT can help if you’re having trouble doing usual daily activities. For example, they can recommend tools to help make daily tasks easier. A PT can teach you exercises to help build strength and flexibility. Call Rehabilitation Therapy at 646-888-1900 to learn more.
Resources for Life After Cancer (RLAC) Program
At MSK, care does not end after your treatment. The RLAC Program is for patients and their families who have finished treatment.
This program has many services. We offer seminars, workshops, support groups, and counseling on life after treatment. We can also help with insurance and employment issues.
Sexual Health Programs
Cancer and cancer treatments can affect your sexual health, fertility, or both. MSK’s sexual health programs can help you before, during, or after your treatment.
- Our Female Sexual Medicine and Women’s Health Program can help with sexual health problems such as premature menopause or fertility issues. Ask a member of your MSK care team for a referral or call 646-888-5076 to learn more.
- Our Male Sexual and Reproductive Medicine Program can help with sexual health problems such as erectile dysfunction (ED). Call 646-888-6024 to learn more or make an appointment.
Social workers help patients, families, and friends deal with common issues for people who have cancer. They provide individual counseling and support groups throughout your treatment. They can help you communicate with children and other family members.
Our social workers can also help refer you to community agencies and programs. If you’re having trouble paying your bills, they also have information about financial resources. Call the number above to learn more.
Our chaplains (spiritual counselors) are available to listen, help support family members, and pray. They can contact community clergy or faith groups, or simply be a comforting companion and a spiritual presence. Anyone can ask for spiritual support. You do not have to have a religious affiliation (connection to a religion).
MSK’s interfaith chapel is located near Memorial Hospital’s main lobby. It’s open 24 hours a day. If you have an emergency, call 212-639-2000. Ask for the chaplain on call.
We offer online education and support for patients and caregivers. These are live sessions where you can talk or just listen. You can learn about your diagnosis, what to expect during treatment, and how to prepare for your cancer care.
Sessions are private, free, and led by experts. Visit our website to learn more about Virtual Programs or to register.
External support services
American Cancer Society (ACS)
Offers a variety of information and services, including Hope Lodge, a free place for patients and caregivers to stay during cancer treatment.
Cancer and Careers
A resource for education, tools, and events for employees with cancer.
275 Seventh Avenue (Between West 25th & 26th Streets)
New York, NY 10001
Provides counseling, support groups, educational workshops, publications, and financial assistance.
Cancer Support Community
Provides support and education to people affected by cancer.
Offers financial assistance to pay for copayments during treatment. Patients must have medical insurance, meet the income criteria, and be prescribed medication that’s part of the Good Days formulary.
LGBT Cancer Project
Provides support and advocacy for the LGBT community, including online support groups and a database of LGBT-friendly clinical trials.
Provides reproductive information and support to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments have risks associated with infertility.
Look Good Feel Better Program
This program offers workshops to learn things you can do to help you feel better about your appearance. For more information or to sign up for a workshop, call the number above or visit the program’s website.
National Cancer Legal Services Network
Free cancer legal advocacy program.
National LGBT Cancer Network
Provides education, training, and advocacy for LGBT cancer survivors and those at risk.
Lists Patient Assistance Programs for brand and generic name medications.
Provides prescription benefits to eligible employees and retirees of public sector employers in New York State.
Patient Advocate Foundation
Provides access to care, financial assistance, insurance assistance, job retention assistance, and access to the national underinsured resource directory.
This section lists the educational resources mentioned in this guide. They will help you get ready for your surgery and recover after your surgery.
As you read through these resources, write down questions to ask your healthcare provider.
- Advance Care Planning
- Call! Don't Fall!
- Common Medications Containing Aspirin, Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), or Vitamin E
- Herbal Remedies and Cancer Treatment
- How to Enroll in MyMSK: Memorial Sloan Kettering's Patient Portal
- How To Use Your Incentive Spirometer
- What You Can Do to Avoid Falling
- About Your Recovery Tracker