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Head and Neck Cancer: An Overview

By David Stepnick and David Gilpin


Ablative surgery for malignancies of the upper aerodigestive tract is the most common reason why the reconstructive surgeon is called upon to reconstruct adult head and neck defects. An understanding of the pathophysiology and treatment of head and neck malignancy is vital to the reconstructive surgeon so that restoration of both form and function can be achieved. It is important to understand the behavior of cancers of each head and neck subsite, as staging and ultimately the treatment of tumors from each subsite is different. Historically, the standard treatment of head and neck cancer was surgery and/or primary radiation therapy with surgical salvage for failure. Beginning in the 1980s, advances in chemotherapy and concurrent delivery with radiation offered new options to standard surgical therapy. Over the past two decades, the concept of organ preservation using chemotherapy together with radiation therapy has been definitively established. Yet, even with the strides made over these two decades with chemoradiation, surgical treatment of head and neck cancer and reconstruction thereof will be an important treatment option for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the relationship between the extirpative and reconstructive surgeon is vital, and a clear understanding of the biology and behavior of head and neck malignancy is crucial to successful patient outcomes

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Publisher: Thieme Medical Publishers
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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