Background: Our goal was to determine the impact of reconstructive microsurgery on the treatment of advanced oral cavity cancers.
Methods: We reviewed 484 patients undergoing resection of T3-4 oral cavity squamous cell cancers from 1980 to 2004. To examine how reconstructive microsurgery affects outcomes, we compared 135 patients treated prior to the introduction of free tissue transfer and 349 patients treated after the introduction of free tissue transfer.
Results: Cancers treated after the introduction of free flaps included a significantly higher proportion of T4 compared to T3 lesions and significantly more advanced N classification lesions. Although cancers were more advanced, survival and recurrence rates were maintained and the rate of positive pathologic margins decreased significantly. In addition, fistula and tracheostomy dependence rates decreased and rates of intelligible speech increased.
Conclusion: Reconstructive microsurgery contributes to improved oncologic outcomes in addition to better function and lower morbidity in oral cavity cancer treatment.
(c) 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.