Head & Neck Surgery



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Ameloblastoma is a rare tumor arising from the enamel-producing-cells of the teeth of the upper and lower jaws. Treatment of ameloblastoma has traditionally relied upon surgical excision of these tumors and the surrounding bone; however, some tumors can be locally destructive and surgery can be associated with significant morbidity.

Stanford investigators Drs. Robert T. Sweeney, Andrew C. McClary, Benjamin R. Myers, and Jewison Biscocho, along with Drs. Robert B. West, Philip A. Beachy, and Jonathan R. Pollack have recently identified mutations in the Hedgehog and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways in ameloblastoma and have published their findings in the journal, Nature Genetics(doi:10.1038/ng.2986).

The investigators found that ameloblastomas of the maxilla have a high rate of mutation in the gene Smoothened (SMO), whereas BRAF mutations were frequently found in tumors of the mandible. This discovery may provide a fresh new paradigm for the diagnosis and treatment for these rare tumors.

The Division of Head and Neck Surgery at Stanford Medicine provides comprehensive surgical care for ameloblastoma in a robust multidisciplinary environment, collaborating with medical and radiation oncologists. Dr. Davud Sirjani leads this effort and provides comprehensive pre-operative assessment for genetic abnormalities (BRAF and SMO) as well as minimally invasive surgical approaches, where clinically appropriate.