FEW AREAS have evoked more controversy and elicited more heated debate among surgical specialties than has the field of head and neck cancer surgery. The reasons are multiple and complex. There has been disagreement as to which surgical specialties are qualified to perform certain operations in the region above the clavicles, excluding the intracranial domain of the neurosurgeons. Individual backgrounds and experiences of surgeons, as well as personalities, have influenced and fostered discord. At least three surgical specialties require training in the treatment of cancer of the head and neck, and this has played a role in the continuing controversy over the determination of who has priority for this type of surgery.
A relatively unique conference was held in March in an attempt to present constructive suggestions and possible solutions to the training of surgeons in this area. At the invitation of the Society of Head and Neck Surgeons, two