Head and neck cancer management involves a range of conditions affecting both the skin and soft soft tissues of the external head and neck (including the face) and the lining and intermediate tissues of the mouth, throat, larynx (voice box) and salivary glands. I work in conjunction with my Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgery colleagues in this regard and typically defer disease management decisions to them. The reconstruction of such defects is one of my particular passions and techniques involved may range from simple operations through to highly complex free tissue transfer procedures. It is important in this complex field to work within a team and I am proud to be a core member of the Oxford Head and Neck Cancer multidisciplinary group where I work closely with other surgeons, oncologists, speech and language therapists, dieticians, physiotherapists and specialist nurses in the treatment and reconstruction are of these challenging cases. My interest in this is long-standing and culminated in me undertaking an international fellowship in the Sydney Head and Neck Cancer Institute in 2012 which became a bedrock of my practice as a consultant surgeon.
Partial laryngeal surgery is a very niche area of head neck cancer work. The larynx, as well as giving us a voice, facilitates our ability to breathe and swallow normally. If part of the larynx is removed without formal reconstruction, functional outcomes can be challenging; but using surgical reconstruction can make such cancer surgery a viable reality. With my ENT colleague, Mr. Stuart Winter, we specialise in one modality of combined partial laryngeal resection and reconstruction, potentially giving patients the opportunity to avoid radiotherapy (and its long-term negative consequences) or total laryngectomy (and the quality of life issues that come with that). Only certain patients and tumour types are suitable for this surgery and every case is assessed on a bespoke basis. Oxford is one of the few centres carrying out this surgery in the UK. It is a particular passion of mine to give patients the opportunity to live a normal life after cancer surgery of this sort.