Cancer of the head and neck, which also affects the jaw or maxilla, “has a very high incidence rate due mainly to two risk factors – tobacco and alcohol, although recent studies show that human papillomavirus is a factor that is becoming more and more relevant in Spain, although we must not forget that there some genetic causes”, explains Dr. Nestor Montesdeoca, head of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Service.
Treatment of head and neck tumors usually requires a surgical approach combined with chemotherapy and radiotherapy for the best results. “But in addition to that, after treatment patients need reconstruction work that guarantees the patient will be able to swallow correctly, have balanced facial features and also be able to chew well with the use of dental implants”, continues Dr. Montesdeoca.
The MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Service not only attends patients with facial cancer, but the medical team also tries to prevent and prepare the mouths of patients with other cancers to reduce possible complications as a result of chemotherapy or radiotherapy. “When a person has to undergo any of these treatments, it is important to have healthy teeth and that there not be any infections that may lead to more serious problems”, points out the specialist.
Latest generation technology in facial reconstruction
Through an agreement of collaboration with engineers at the Canary Institute of Technology, the Cancer Center designs made-to-measure prostheses to replace the temporomandibular joint and reconstruct the jaws, eye socket and skull. By using computerized 3D design techniques, personalized reconstruction of the area affected by the tumor is achieved.
Virtual planning of the procedure prior to surgery and the use of real models not only helps to determine the area to be treated, but also to plan and predict the end result of reconstruction. “This is really a field in which medicine and engineering work hand in hand to achieve the best results in terms of quality and safety for the patient”, explains Dr. Montesdeoca, of MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid.