The population of the United Kingdom is becoming ever more obese, with similar findings demonstrated across the developed world. The incidence of oral and oropharyngeal cancer is also rising. Although studies have reported a reduced risk for head and neck cancer in overweight or obese patients, it is likely maxillofacial surgeons will be increasingly exposed to oral malignancy presenting in this patient group. We aim to highlight and discuss potential difficulties in the surgical and medical oncological management of the obese patient with oral malignancy.
Methods: A brief review of the literature is presented along with a discussion of the difficulties in managing oral cancer in this patient group. Clinical cases are presented as means of illustration.
Results: Difficulties have been experienced throughout the management pathway, predominantly related to body habitus. Dilemmas have been experienced with regard to treatment planning, especially including free-flap selection and design. Anaesthetic, peri-operative and oncological complications have also been experienced and are discussed.
Conclusions: We present our cases to highlight the challenges the obese patient can present. The authors welcome input from colleagues with regard to the conundrums this patient group present.
Key words: oral cancer; obesity