Approximately 90 % of malignant tumors of the oral cavity consists of squamous cell carcinomas. 15 years ago they almost exclusively occurred in men, the number of the female patients is increasing nowadays. This can be almost entirely explained by the increasing number of women who smoke, since it is the combination of smoking and alcohol, which is the most likely cause.
Although much research has been conducted, we do not see dramatic improvement in the prognosis. Patients with solid tumors and lymph node metastases in the neck have a 5 years survival rate of 30%, while patients with small tumors without lymph node metastasis have a 5 years survival rate of more than 75%. Early detection is extremely important.
State of the art treatment of head and neck malignancies is a multidisciplinary co-operation. Diagnosis and planning of interventions are done during Multidisciplinary Oncological Consultations.
Here, the following specialists are present:
Treament options are the following:
- Maxillofacial surgeons
- Ear-, nose-, throat specialists
- Speech therapist
- Social worker
- surgical interventions
- combined treatment
However, the quality of life after ablative surgery (removal of tumor) can be greatly improved by the present reconstructive possibilities. Through the use of microsurgical flaps, which are taken at a distance, tissue (skin, fascia, muscle, bone, nerve grafts, ... ) can be transferred to the defect. In this way, there is not only restoration of the anatomy, but also of the function.
Recently, navigation systems and robotic assisted surgery also have made their entry into this surgery.
The information listed above is the opinion of the doctors of the Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, AZ Sint Jan Bruges, Belgium and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the specialty as a whole.