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Head & Neck Cancers

Asplundh Cancer Pavilion

At Asplundh Cancer Pavilion, our team of clinicians, scientists, surgeons and therapists provide the highest level of care. Treatment of head and neck cancers requires a dual focus on cure as well as function as it often impacts elements essential to quality of life. Asplundh Cancer Pavilion has assembled fellowship-trained sub-specialists that are dedicated to the evaluation, treatment, and survivorship of our patients.

Cancers we treat include:

  • Oral cancer of the lips, tongue, and mouth
  • Throat cancer (tonsils and tongue base)
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Sinonasal cancer
  • Salivary gland cancers
  • Advanced skin cancers of the head and neck
  • Thyroid Cancer (with link to thyroid page)
  • Rare tumors of the head and neck

The partnership of Abington with the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Jefferson Health has brought cutting edge cancer care to a location and environment closer to our patient’s homes.

What to Expect - the Workup

What to expect during the workup and diagnostic phase: being referred to a cancer center by your physician can be overwhelming. We are committed to keeping the personal touch and individualized care as you navigate through multiple appointments. Our head and neck cancer nurse navigator, Kelly Pressler, RN, MSN, OCN, has years of experience in this process. The stage and location of the tumor will determine the optimal treatment for you. A head and neck surgical oncologist, a radiation oncologist and a medical oncologist will meet with you to determine appropriate scans, biopsies and pre-treatment evaluations.

Timeliness of your workup is critical for us and will be a measure of our commitment to your care.

At the completion of this workup, a tumor board of all of the specialists will make a recommendation for the appropriate treatment.

Treatment Philosophy

We believe in a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care. The right supportive team to meet your needs includes speech and swallowing therapists, nutritionists, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, and psychologists, who will work alongside your surgeons, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists. Our team approach allows us to maximally treat the cancer with a focus on preserving and restoring function. From the use of targeted radiation techniques, to robotics and laser surgery to activate your immune system to fight cancer, the team at the Asplundh Cancer Pavilion will develop a personalized treatment plan.

Clinical Trials

Patients are evaluated for eligibility in clinical trials. Our depth and breadth of trials ensure the standard of care is met and goes beyond to next generation therapies and concepts that focus on tumor cure and preserving function.

Surgery for Head and Neck Cancer

Jefferson’s ear, nose and throat program, including surgical oncologists, is ranked eighth in the nation and first in the region by the most recent US News & World Report “Best Hospitals” survey. These fellowship-trained surgeons will discuss with you if surgery is the right option and will offer a range of minimally invasive techniques, such as trans oral robotic surgery (TORS) or laser surgery for early stage disease. In advanced disease or recurrent disease, our experts manage these complex operations on a daily basis, coupling their team approach with our reconstructive plastic surgeons to restore form and function.

Radiation

Radiation is a foundational element of the treatment for head and neck cancer.  Both technology and clinician experience are critical for delivery of effective radiation.  Wayne Pinover, DO and Scott Herbert, MD have over two decades of experience treating these cancers and utilize the latest technology in the state-of-the-art Asplundh Cancer Pavilion. Radiation may be used as the primary treatment or provided post-operatively. Our team will sort through these decisions with you.

Medical Oncology

Chemotherapy and immunotherapy are two critical elements in the treatment of advanced disease. If indicated, it will be given with radiation as primary treatment or post-operatively. Our team will work with you to discuss the pros and cons of chemotherapy and the latest targeted therapies to develop a treatment plan that maximizes cure rates and limits side effects.  Critical to this element of treatment is the support staff of nurses in our infusion center that will help guide you through this phase of treatment.

Honored for Cancer Expertise

CoC Outstanding Achievement Award 2012

The Commission on Cancer, American College of Surgeons, gave us its 2012 Outstanding Achievement Award, one of only three Pennsylvania centers to receive that honor for cancer treatment excellence.

Diagnosing Head and Neck Cancer

Testing with the latest technologies is vital for an accurate diagnosis and to determine the best treatment. After physical examination of the mouth and neck, tests may include: endoscopic examination of the larynx, x-ray, CT and PET scans, and biopsy. We also provide consultations (second opinions) for patients originally diagnosed elsewhere.

Head and Neck Cancer Treatments

Surgery may be the only treatment needed for some small head and neck cancers. Lymph nodes also may be removed. A laryngectomy (removal of vocal chords) may be necessary to effectively treat certain cancers.

Radiation therapy might be used on its own or in combination with other treatments. Advanced procedures include intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) to deliver high-powered radiation in focused beams. This targets the cancer and avoids healthy areas.

Chemotherapy is sometimes administered after surgery to destroy remaining cancer cells. It may be given as outpatient or inpatient treatment. Some patients may receive targeted therapy.

We participate in clinical trials for head and neck cancer. This gives our patients opportunities to take part in studies of promising new advances.

Fertility Preservation

Before starting any cancer treatment, talk with your oncologist about whether the therapy could affect your fertility. Our reproductive endocrinologists help with fertility preservation before cancer treatment or appropriate infertility treatment if cancer therapy has already been given.

Help Navigating Your Cancer Treatment

Whether you are newly diagnosed or in treatment, our cancer navigators provide help and support. The nurse navigator for head and neck cancers, Kelly Pressler, RN, MSN, OCN can be emailed, or is available at 215-481-6387.