Characterization of the oropharynx: anatomy, histology, immunology, squamous cell carcinoma and surgical resection

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Understanding the structure and function of the oropharynx is paramount for providing excellent patient care. In clinical oncology, the oropharynx is generally divided into four distinct components: (i) the base of the tongue; (ii) the soft palate; (iii) the palatine tonsillar fossa; and (iv) the pharyngeal wall. The oropharyngeal mucosa is distinct from other mucosal surfaces in the body, as it is composed of a reticulated epithelium with a discontinuous basement membrane, also known as lymphoepithelium. This review describes the anatomy, histology, immunology and surgical resection of the oropharynx as they relate to oncological care.

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