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Head and Neck Cancer and Reconstruction

Head and Neck Cancer and Reconstruction - What it is

Head and neck cancers account for 3% of all cancers and consist of tumors affecting any region of the head and neck, including the scalp, skin, oral cavity, nasopharynx, paranasal sinuses, oropharynx, larynx, hypopharynx and esophagus. Depending on tumor type and extent, treatment modalities include a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Plastic surgeons are heavily involved in the management of head and neck cancer patients, most notably for reconstruction of defects post tumor removal. Many of these defects can be large and potentially extremely debilitating. The goal of the plastic surgeon is to restore appearance and function to as close to normal as possible.

To achieve these goals, plastic surgeons utilize a range of surgical techniques, such as grafting and flap surgery, to restore like-with-like. The kind of reconstructive method will vary according to the defect characteristics. Flap surgery involves mobilizing healthy tissue with a known blood supply from another part of the body reconstruct the defect which results from cancer removal. This may involve mobilizing local or regional tissue (pedicled flaps), or involve the use of reconstructive microsurgery (free flaps) where specialized operating microscopes and precision instrumentation are used to repair intricate structures such as blood vessels and nerves less than a few millimeters in diameter. The versatility which microsurgery provides gives plastic surgeons the best options for restoring any defect.

Examples of local/regional flaps used in head and neck reconstruction:
  • Scalp rotation flaps
  • Forehead flaps
  • Cheek advancement flaps
  • Nasolabial flaps
  • Facial artery musculo-mucosal (FAMM) flaps
  • Submental flaps
  • Supraclavicular flaps
  • Pectoralis major flaps
  • Deltoacromial flaps
  • Trapezius flaps
  • Latissimus dorsi flaps
Examples of free flaps used on head and neck reconstruction
  • Anterolateral thigh (ALT) flaps
  • Fibula osteocutaneous flaps
  • Forearm flaps
  • Medial sural artery perforator flaps

Head and Neck Cancer and Reconstruction - How to prevent?

Head and Neck Cancer and Reconstruction - Causes and Risk Factors

Head and Neck Cancer and Reconstruction - Diagnosis

Head and Neck Cancer and Reconstruction - Preparing for surgery

Head and Neck Cancer and Reconstruction - Post-surgery care

Head and Neck Cancer and Reconstruction - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth