Benign or malignant tumours (from Latin “tumor” = swelling or abnormal growth) can develop at any time and in any part of the body, including the oral and facial region.
Benign tumours are frequently characterized by a very slow growth in size (over several years) and by a relatively sharp demarcation between the tumour and adjacent tissue.
To determine whether a tumour is benign or malignant it is necessary to take a tissue sample for histopathological examination by a pathologist.
Malignant tumours (cancer) usually grow faster than benign ones (within weeks or months) and tend to infiltrate adjacent tissue (bones, muscles, mucous membrane and skin). Consequently, in many cases they are difficult to demarcate from their surrounding. Moreover, malignant tumours have the capacity form subsidiary tumours (metastases). These metastases can spread throughout the body via the bloodstream or lymphatic system. So when choosing the therapy modality, the ways in which the tumour can spread to other sites and tissues in the body need to be considered.
Basically, there are three different therapy options for the treatment of malignant tumours: chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.
The therapy modality should be selected by careful consideration of the different types of tumours and the ways in which they typically spread and grow. In some cases, even a combination of the different treatment options may be the best solution. However, each case needs to be assessed individually.
Surgery is the method of choice in the majority of patients with tumours in the facial region or oral cavity. Complete removal of the malignant neoplasm and the treatment of the affected lymphatic drainage regions in the neck are essential requirements to ensure successful therapy.
Prior to therapy a detailed diagnosis is necessary to determine the extent of spread of the neoplasm and to identify potential metastases or even additional tumours. In general, the required examinations can be performed on an outpatient basis. Diagnostic examinations and treatment should not be delayed.
The surgery should only be performed by experienced surgeons as the anatomy of the head/neck region is very complex. Having worked for a number of years as senior consultants at both of Munich’s university hospitals, we possess the necessary experience and skill to perform these surgical procedures.
The functional (speech and swallowing) and aesthetic outcome of the surgery are primarily determined by the location and size of the tumour, but also by the reconstruction method and wound closure. Depending on the patient’s individual requirements, flap surgery with local and distant skin flaps can be used for reconstruction. This means plastic, aesthetic and functional reconstruction is accomplished by filling the defect produced by the removal of the tumour with adjacent tissue (local flap) or from a donor site that is far from the defect (distant flap). This type of distant flap requires blood vessel connection under the microscope.
In the course of the treatment, additional surgery may be necessary and indicated to improve appearance and function.
Even if a malignant tumour is removed in its entirety, the risk of recurrence is higher than for individuals who have never had a tumour in their lives. Consequently, post-operative follow-up is a key element of tumour therapy.
We are convinced that a high level of trust between patients and experienced doctors is the basis for any successful therapy.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for a personal consultation. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and jointly develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs to bring you back on firm ground as soon as possible!