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Ablative Surgeries

Surgical removal of the cancer is often the first line of treatment for head and neck cancers. Depending on the location of your cancer and whether it invades into nearby structures or has spread beyond the head and neck, there are various procedures your surgeon may recommend. You may also undergo a combination of procedures.

A surgeon may need to evaluate whether the suspected cancer extends into lymph nodes. By removing the lymph nodes with suspected cancer and sending them to a pathologist for further evaluation, the surgeon will be able to refine staging and recommend the best treatment course for your head and neck cancer.1Koch WM, Ridge JA, Forastiere A, Manola J. Comparison of clinical and pathological staging in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: results from Intergroup Study ECOG 4393/RTOG 9614. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009;135(9):851-8.

A surgeon may also perform surgery as part of your treatment plan with the objective of removing as much of the tumor as possible.2Argiris A, Karamouzis MV, Raben D, Ferris RL. Head and neck cancer. Lancet. 2008;371:1695-1709. After surgery is completed, the tumor can be sent to a pathology lab for further analysis.3Bernier J, Cooper JS, Pajak TF, et al. Defining risk levels in locally advanced head and neck cancers: a comparative analysis of concurrent postoperative radiation plus chemotherapy trials of the EORTC (#22931) and RTOG (#9501). Head Neck. 2005;27(10):843-50. For example, if cancer is found at the border of the tumor, then another type of treatment such as radiation therapy may be recommended post-surgery.

Navigating cancer removal surgeries

The articles in this section discuss the types of cancer removal surgeries used to treat head and neck cancers. Each article includes a description of a procedure as well as what you should expect during recovery and after treatment is completed.

Craniofacial Resection

This section will review craniofacial surgeries, which includes surgeries in the skull and in the front of the face, such as nasal cavities or cavities in the forehead region.

Evisceration, Enucleation and Exenteration

This section reviews surgical procedures a surgeon may perform to remove different amounts of the eye and eye socket, ranging from evisceration (removal of the inside of the eyeball but not the outer layers) to orbital exenteration (removal of the entire eye socket, optic nerve and even bones surrounding the eye). This section also covers enucleation (removal of the eye but leaving the eye socket in place).

Glossectomy

This article discusses different types of procedures that are done to remove either part of the tongue or the entire tongue. A glossectomy is often performed for the treatment of tongue cancer. This section will also review complications that may occur, such as problems with swallowing or speaking.

Laryngectomy

This article reviews the surgical procedure to remove either a portion of the voice box (larynx), such as a partial laryngectomy, total laryngectomyor the entire voice box plus the upper throat (total laryngopharyngectomy).

Total Laryngopharyngectomy

This article discusses the procedure that will be done to remove both the entire voice box and the pharynx (upper throat).

Mandibulectomy

This article reviews the type of surgery that is done to remove all or part of the lower jawbone (mandible).

Maxillectomy

This article covers the type of surgery that is done to remove either a portion of or the entire upper jawbone (maxilla).

Neck Dissection

Neck dissection is a procedure to remove lymph nodes to assess whether cancer has spread from the site of the tumor into lymph nodes (selective neck dissection) or to remove known cancerous lymph nodes (therapeutic neck dissection).

Parotidectomy

This is an overview of the surgical procedure to remove either part of or all of the parotid salivary gland, which is located under the lower jaw near the ear.

Pharyngectomy

This section reviews the type of surgery that is done to remove a portion of or the entire pharynx (upper throat).

Submandibular Gland Resection

This type of surgery is done to remove a submandibular salivary gland; this pair of salivary glands is located beneath the lower jaw.

Trans-Oral Robotic Surgery (TORS)

This procedure uses a surgical robot to remove tumors from hard-to-reach areas, such as the base of the tongue.


References

1 Koch WM, Ridge JA, Forastiere A, Manola J. Comparison of clinical and pathological staging in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: results from Intergroup Study ECOG 4393/RTOG 9614. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009;135(9):851-8.

2 Argiris A, Karamouzis MV, Raben D, Ferris RL. Head and neck cancer. Lancet. 2008;371:1695-1709.

3 Bernier J, Cooper JS, Pajak TF, et al. Defining risk levels in locally advanced head and neck cancers: a comparative analysis of concurrent postoperative radiation plus chemotherapy trials of the EORTC (#22931) and RTOG (#9501). Head Neck. 2005;27(10):843-50.