Cooperation between ENT surgeon and dentist in head and neck oncology
Head and neck cancer (HNC) patients require specialized care throughout the continuum of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survival. Cooperation between ENT and dentists is crucial, since all of the different anatomic areas affected by cancer have distinctive characteristics and the best results in terms of life expectancy and patients’ quality of life can only be achieved through a multidisciplinary approach. The synergic cooperation of all health care workers in the early diagnosis of HNC allows a better prognosis for such patients. As soon as dentists diagnose a Potentially Malignant Disorder (PMD), patients should undergo complete ENT screening for detection of lesions in any portion of the upper aerodigestive tract. Before and after cancer diagnosis and before any oncologic treatment, it is critical that these patients undergo an accurate and complete dental and periodontal assessment to optimize treatment and minimize complications or side effects. Multidisciplinary ablative, reconstructive and prosthetic programing in Head & Neck oncologic surgery has become imperative to offer patients the best functional and esthetic outcome. An improvement in oral function and associated quality of life is strictly related to correct prosthetic rehabilitation. Finally, after surgery and/or radiotherapy (RT), the main objectives of dental treatment in these patients are the prevention and therapy of dental diseases and the side effects of oncological therapies involving the oral cavity.