Personalized Surgical Approaches to Cancer of the Head and Neck
The Christ Hospital Health Network’s board-certified otolaryngologists have numerous years of experience in the diagnoses and treatment of all head and neck cancers. With our multidisciplinary approach to care, you can rest assured knowing our surgeons consult regularly with other treatment physicians to ensure the best and most personalized treatment plan is developed for these complex problems.
Head and neck cancers can be roughly grouped into five major categories:
Cancers of the skin and outer surfaces
Cancers of the inner surfaces of the tongue, mouth, throat, voice box and esophagus
Cancers of the saliva glands, such as the parotid and submandibular glands
Cancers of the lymph nodes, including primary cancers such as lymphoma, or secondary cancers that have spread to the lymph nodes
Cancers of the thyroid gland
Evaluation of head and neck problems begins with a careful history and physical exam. The exam often involves a gentle endoscopic exam of the lower throat with a telescope passed through the nose after it has been sprayed with a safe numbing solution. This is very easily tolerated and provides a clear view of all the lower throat structures. Our surgeons may also order studies to evaluate the location and extent of the tumor if one is suspected. This may include CT (computed tomography) scans, MRI (magnet resonance imaging), ultrasound and occasionally PET (positron emission tomography) scans.
If the lesion can be reached comfortably in the office, a biopsy will be taken while you are in the office. This may be a direct biopsy of the lesion on the surface of the skin or mouth, or a needle biopsy of a node or deeper mass. If the lesion cannot be reached comfortably in the office, then an endoscopy and biopsy will be scheduled in the operating room where you will be briefly put to sleep. A treatment plan is determined once we make a diagnosis and the extent of the mass and its spread has been determined (referred to as staging).
Our ENT surgeons coordinate your care with other experts as it involves various combinations of surgical management, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Our surgeon’s goals are to cure your cancer and also have the best in functional and cosmetic outcomes.
Once your cancer therapy is complete, we will continue long-term monitoring. This is very frequent at first (often monthly) and decreases as you remain tumor-free over five years. Follow-up visits are coordinated with your other treatment doctors to provide you with a seamless experience in follow-up care.
The Christ Hospital Physicians - Ear, Nose & Throat
Our comprehensive specialists of The Christ Hospital Physicians – Ears, Nose & Throat offer children and adults diagnostic, surgical and follow-up care; voice disorder evaluation and treatment options; hearing assessments and recommendations; and a full spectrum of allergy testing and management.