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South African Dental Journal

On-line version ISSN 0375-1562
Print version ISSN 0011-8516


SYKES, LM; NTSEKE, TV  and  NETHONONDA, PT. Looking beyond the physical management of patients with head and neck cancer. S. Afr. dent. j. [online]. 2021, vol.76, n.6, pp.379-382. ISSN 0375-1562.

Cancers of the head and neck region often leave patients with conspicuous defects, as well as limitations in physical and psycho-social functions. Rehabilitation is challenging and can never fully restore the anatomical, physiological, or functional characteristics that have been lost. Ideally newly diagnosed cancer patients should be managed by a multidisciplinary team of specialists from various allied fields who will be able to educate them and help them decide on the most appropriate and suitable treatment options. Patients must understand the processes, be of possible side effects and comprehend the limitations aware of rehabilitation. At the same time, clinicians may need to consider issues of distributive justice when deciding which patients will receive which resources, especially in financially limited institutions and countries. The biggest challenge to us as clinicians as well as community members is to try and treat all patients holistical-ly and to address both their physical and psychosocial needs. This requires a fervent commitment to action, and that we all stand together and help each other through difficult times.

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