Reconstructive head and neck surgery: oncological and functional results

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Abstract

Aims.

The aim of this retrospective study is to review the experience in performing head and neck reconstruction surgery between 1989 and 2009 at the ENT Department of the University Hospital of Ferrara, Italy, considering the oncological as well as the functional and psychological outcome.

Methods and study design.

Thirty-three consecutive patients were enrolled. Patients underwent flap reconstruction following primary or salvage surgery for squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity or oropharynx. Oncological results in terms of survival rate and disease-free interval, as well as functional and psychological results were evaluated.

Results.

The oncological results, i.e. survival rate related to cancer stage and diseasefree interval, were in agreement with those of the literature. Functional assessment, swallowing function and speech intelligibility were statistically poorer in patients affected by oropharyngeal malignancies than in patients affected by oral cancer. Quality of life was compromised in terms of reduced relationships and onset of depression or irritability.

Conclusions.

Reconstructive surgery can be considered a relatively standard procedure in the treatment of head and neck cancer. The main drawback is still related to the major impact on patients' quality of life and functional status.

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