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Long-Term Surgical Complications in the Oral Cancer Patient: a Comprehensive Review. Part I

Author(s): Antonia Kolokythas

Journal: Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Research
ISSN 2029-283X

Volume: 1;
Issue: 3;
Start page: e1;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: oral cancer | oropharyngeal cancer | postoperative complications | neurologic dysfunction | speech disorders | swallowing disorders

Objectives: Oral and oropharyngeal cancer remains among the top ten most common malignancies in the United States and worldwide. Over the last several decades the approach to treatment of oral cancer has changed very little with regards to primary tumour extirpation while the approach to the “at risk” lymph nodes has evolved significantly. Perhaps the most significant change in the surgical treatment of cancer is the introduction of free flap for reconstruction post resection. Despite these surgical advances, oral cancer ablation, still results in the sacrifice of several functional and aesthetic organs. The aim of this article was to provide a comprehensive review of the potential long-term complications associated with surgical treatment of oral cancer and their management.Material and Methods: The available English language literature relevant to long-term surgical complications associated with surgical treatment of oral cancer was reviewed. The potential common as well as rarer complications that may be encountered and their treatment are summarized.Results: In total 50 literature sources were obtained and reviewed. The topics covered in the first part of this review series include ablative surgery complications, issues with speech, swallowing and chewing and neurologic dysfunction.Conclusions: The early complications associated with oncologic surgery for oral cancer are similar to other surgical procedures. The potential long-term complications however are quite challenging for the oncologic team and the patient who survives oral cancer, primarily due to the highly specialized regional tissues involved in the surgical field.
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