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April, designated as Oral Cancer Awareness Month, is a pivotal time for our oral surgeons to emphasize the importance of early detection and prevention in combating oral cancer. When facing the daunting diagnosis of oropharyngeal cancer, the importance of specialized care cannot be overstated. This type of cancer, which affects the area behind the oral cavity, including parts of the throat, base of the tongue and tonsils, requires the expertise of skilled oral and maxillofacial surgeons. Our surgical team plays a crucial role in not only removing precancerous or malignant cells but also in preserving the functionality and aesthetics of the mouth and face.

Treating Oropharyngeal Cancer

Our oral and maxillofacial surgeons are at the forefront of treating oropharyngeal cancer. Their extensive training enables them to meticulously remove cancerous cells while safeguarding the integrity of surrounding muscles, nerves and blood vessels. This precision is vital, as it ensures that patients can maintain as much normalcy in their facial movements and sensations as possible post-surgery.┬áMoreover, in cases where the tumor is large enough to cause facial disfigurement, our surgeons possess the specialized knowledge to reconstruct the affected area. Utilizing advanced techniques, we strive to minimize scarring and restore the patient’s appearance to the greatest extent possible. The expertise of an experienced maxillofacial surgeon, therefore, is paramount in achieving an optimal outcome from head and neck cancer treatment.

Cancer as a Major Public Health Issue

Cancer remains a major public health issue worldwide, with oral cavity and pharynx cancers representing a significant portion of the burden. In the United States alone, over 38,000 new cases of these cancers are estimated to occur each year, resulting in approximately 11,000 deaths annually. The majority of oral cancers are attributed to chronic alcohol and tobacco use. However, it’s crucial to understand that these cancers can affect anyone. Recently, certain subtypes of human papillomavirus (HPV) have been identified as a risk factor for oropharyngeal cancers, highlighting the evolving understanding of cancer etiology (their cause or origin).

The Most Prevalent Form of Oral Cancer

Oral squamous cell carcinoma is the most prevalent form of oral cancer, accounting for the majority of cases. Interestingly, there are potentially malignant disorders recognized as a pre-clinical phase of oral cancer, indicating that early detection and intervention are possible. This underscores the importance of regular check-ups, as we specialize in oral and maxillofacial (OMF) surgery and are adept at identifying and managing tumors in these regions. Our role is not just limited to surgical interventions; we are also key in the early detection and management of conditions that could potentially become malignant and may influence the disease’s trajectory.

Managing Oropharyngeal Cancer

The management of oropharyngeal cancer by our oral and maxillofacial surgeons is comprehensive, encompassing the removal of cancerous cells, ensuring the functional preservation of the mouth and face, and aesthetic reconstruction when necessary. Our expertise is crucial not only for the surgical treatment of the disease but also for the early detection of potentially malignant disorders. This holistic approach to care is vital for our patients, offering hope and significantly improving quality of life during and after treatment.

Reaching Out

When faced with oropharyngeal cancer, the specialized skills of our oral and maxillofacial surgeons are indispensable. Our ability to treat the disease while maintaining patient quality of life underscores the importance of seeking experienced professionals for optimal outcomes. As cancer continues to be a significant health concern, our role in managing oral cancers is more critical than ever. Our expertise not only offers the best chance for recovery but also ensures that patients can face treatment with confidence, knowing they are in highly capable hands.