By Dr. Todd
Head and neck surgery is the surgical treatment of diseases of the soft tissues and organs of the head and neck, including the throat, mouth, nasal and sinus cavities. This can be to address either benign or malignant tumors, infection or functional problems in conjunction with other medications and therapies. A large portion of this branch of the speciality has to do with treatment of cancers that arise here. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCCa) makes up greater than 90% of the tumors that arise in the mouth, throat, and voice box. A variety of other tumors arise in the salivary glands, nose and sinuses, lymph nodes and the overlying skin of the face, neck, and ears. Many of these tumors require extensive and complicated surgeries for removal and subsequent reconstruction of function and appearance. Often the nature of SCCa requires patients to also undergo radiation and/or chemotherapy post-operatively.
Tobacco and alcohol use are risk factors for head and neck cancers and increase the incidence of developing cancer by1500%. Unfortunately, because of this the incidence and mortality of head and neck cancer has not changed much over the years. Surgical techniques have improved though and have resulted in much improved post-operative function and cosmesis of the reconstructions.