Burraneer surgeon Professor Jonathan Clark recognised for significant service to medicine

Professor Jonathan Clark has been recognised for his significant service to medicine as a surgeon.

Professor Jonathan Clark has been recognised for his significant service to medicine as a surgeon.

Burraneer resident Professor Jonathan Clark was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday 2019 Honours List today for his significant service to medicine as a head and neck cancer surgeon.

Professor Clark specialises in the removal of aggressive head and neck cancers from a person's face and facial reconstruction.

He started his career as an intern at St George and Sutherland Hospitals, completed his medical degree at the University of NSW in 1997 and is now a Clinical Professor at Chris O'Brien Lifehouse.

Jonathan Clark was born and raised at Connells Point before moving to the shire when he was 16 where he still lives now in Burraneer with his wife Joanne and three sons, Harrison, Jacob and Sebastian.

He can be found most Saturday and Sunday mornings fishing on the waterways of Port Hacking. He still operates and consults at St George Private Hospital.

In 2014 Professor Clark was also instrumental in launching, Beyond Five, the first national head and neck cancer charity to support people with head and neck cancer.

Professor Clark said that head and neck cancers are some of the most challenging cancers to treat because they affect how patients look, talk, eat and breathe.

"I remove tumours affecting the mouth, throat, face, salivary glands and thyroid," he said.

"I also use tissue from other parts of the body to reconstruct the area removed.

"It is a major challenge to reconstruct the face after removal of a cancer. Doing this well is very satisfying. I also enjoy researching better ways of treating head and neck cancers."

Professor Clark says that even though these cancers have an enormous impact on the lives of so many people, there is surprisingly little public awareness, other than what people see on cigarette packets.

"Given the lower profile of head and neck cancers, many Australians are diagnosed late, increasing the need for life-changing surgery," he said.

"Sometimes patients are left disfigured, socially isolated, unable to return to work and require a lot of support."

Nearly 5,000 people were diagnosed with head and neck cancer last year in Australia. Head and neck cancers are three times more common in men and males make up around 70 percent of those diagnosed each year.

The most important risk factors for head and neck are tobacco and alcohol use, responsible for over 75 per cent of cases.

But what people may not know is that today in Australia, the human papilloma virus is the most common cause of tonsil cancer and tongue based cancer.