Tumor resection often presents its own unique reconstruction challenges depending on the cancer site and the size and invasiveness of the tumor. Penn head and neck reconstructive surgeons can work hand-in-hand with cancer care teams to provide treatments optimized for the patient and make your care plan as easy and seamless as possible.
The team at Penn treats each patient as an individual, with the expertise and technology to address your specific needs, while optimizing function and aesthetics and providing a comprehensive care plan.
Post-Cancer Reconstruction Treatments
The Penn head and neck reconstructive surgery team has experience with reconstruction following a wide variety of cancer resection procedures. Treatments include:
Invented at Penn, TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) is the world’s first minimally invasive, robotic-assisted procedure for a variety of head and neck cancers. Because more TORS procedures are performed at Penn than anywhere else in the world, our reconstructive surgeons have extensive experience treating the needs of post-TORS patients with the goal of normal swallowing and speech following the removal of tumors that could affect these important functions.
Salivary Gland Reconstruction
For significant soft tissue defects of of the salivary glands and neck, reconstruction was traditionally unavailable or considered unimportant. At Penn, our team is able to address the unique complexities of these patients preventing and minimizing functional and aesthetic deformity in ways previously not possible. The best chance for normal appearance starts with reconstruction immediately following tumor removal, though Penn surgeons are also skilled at repair even long after salivary surgery.
Tongue and Oral Cavity Tumors
When part of the tongue or oral tissues are removed, reconstruction with free tissue, local tissues or transfers from the regional area is often indicated. These reconstructions preserve the tongue mobility, restore the jaw structure, and therefore reconstitute form and function that would otherwise be lost.
Laryngeal and Cervical Esophageal Tumors
There are instances when laryngeal or esophageal tumors may necessitate removal of part or all of the voice box or esophagus. For these patients, the Penn team has extensive experience reconstructing these affected structures. This preserves the patient’s ability to eat and drink, and reduces or eliminates the commonly associated risk of aspiration. This has a dramatic effect on function, safety and quality of life for our patients.
Peripheral Nerve Recovery
During resection of tumors of the lower jaw, it is common for the inferior alveolar nerve that provides sensation to the lower lip/chin/gums to be impacted. In such cases, Penn surgeons can microsurgically reconnect the sacrificed nerve tissue during reconstruction to allow for the recovery of some lost sensation.
Learn more about Penn’s Head and Neck Cancer Surgery treatments and services.