Reconstructive Surgery for Head & Neck Cancer

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Memorial Sloan Kettering surgeons participate in a panel discussion of the latest advances in head and neck cancer treatment.

Jatin Shah talks about reconstruction techniques for patients who have had areas of tissue removed during surgery. He says that even if the area removed is large, such as part of a jawbone, technology allows tissue to be restored to a degree that the patient can have essentially the same appearance as before the surgery. He explains that, generally, the reconstruction process can begin in the same session as the actual surgery.

Snehal Patel says that restoring form is much easier than restoring function largely because restoring function depends on such things as making nerves work again. They do not yet have the ability to reactivate organs such as the voice box. Being able to successfully transplant organs such as the larynx and have them function precisely as they did before surgery is the “holy grail” of reconstructive surgery.