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Many Head and Neck Skin Cancers Require More Robust Treatment

Because some head and neck melanomas can be so aggressive, otolaryngologists will want to be particularly watchful for the difficult subset of these cases that often leads to metastasis and recurrence, resulting in increased risk for death. Learn what current treatment guidelines recommend in assessing these troublesome cases during miniseminar “Head and Neck Skin Cancer: When Mohs Is Not Enough” from 8:00 am to 9:20 am today in West Level II, Room 223.

“Panelists will discuss the appropriate extent of surgery in the management of head and neck skin cancer,” said miniseminar moderator Christine G. Gourin, MD, MPH, associate professor, the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Head and Neck Surgical Oncology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. “They will also address indications for sentinel node biopsy, neck dissection, and adjuvant therapies, particularly radiation and chemotherapeutics.”

This charge for appropriate otolaryngology assessment will not be an easy one to undertake because of the surprising commonality and increasing incidence of skin cancer in this country. Which ones will require potent approaches, and which ones less intense treatment? Dr. Gourin said not all head and neck cancers fit the one-size-fits-all treatment modality of Mohs surgery or referral to a dermatologist.

The consequence of missing these high-risk cases can lead to under-treatment and subsequent poor outcomes. That’s not to say that patients with melanoma will not benefit from Mohs or treatment from dermatologists because most skin cancer patients have an excellent prognosis following outpatient treatment with Mohs surgery. However, the aggressive subset of head and neck melanomas is dangerous. Therefore, panelists are charged with the responsibility of advising audience members about when treatment by a dermatologists or with Mohs will be inadequate.

“Practicing otolaryngologists who detect skin cancer cases in their practice will want to attend this miniseminar,” she said. “This is the place to learn the most current guidelines for the treatment of skin cancer.”

Leading head and neck cancer experts will serve as panelists for this miniseminar: Derrick T. Lin, MD, co-director, the Cranial Base Center and the Head and Neck Oncology Fellowship, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Cecelia E. Schmalbach, MD; associate professor of surgery, residency program director, Head and Neck Oncology, Microvascular Surgery, Cutaneous Head and Neck Cancer, the University of Alabama at Birmingham; Carol R. Bradford, MD, professor of otolaryngology, the University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor; and Randal S. Weber, MD, chair of the Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Division of Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.