I want to say ‘thank you’ to all the doctors and nurses; I’m grateful for everything they’ve done. They have a special place in my heart." Jackie Garcia, head and neck cancer survivor
If you’ve been diagnosed with a head and neck cancer, talk to us about treatment options. At City of Hope, our dedicated team of experts take a patient-centered approach to diagnosing and treating this group of cancers, including tumors and cancers of the:
If you have been diagnosed with a head and neck cancer, are at a high risk for developing this disease or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, you may request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-4673 (HOPE). Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.
Our multidisciplinary staff pursues an integrated approach to treating head and neck cancers by combining the latest research findings with outstanding patient care. This includes using advanced technologies and specialized techniques such as:
Additionally, City of Hope patients have access to our extensive team of supportive care experts, who will help you and your caregivers achieve and maintain a better quality of life during and after your cancer treatment.
City of Hope is a nationally recognized leader in the research and treatment of head and neck cancers. We are one of the few facilities designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute, and for over a decade, U.S. News & World Report has named City of Hope one of the top cancer hospitals in America.
Our physicians have been consistently named "America's Top Doctors" by Castle Connolly and are active participants in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, which sets evidence-based best practices for detecting, evaluating and treating head and neck cancers nationwide.
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Head and neck cancers are a group of diseases involved abnormal, uncontrolled cell growth in head and neck tissues. These include:
Factors that can elevate head and neck cancer risk include:
Head and neck cancer symptoms vary depending on the area affected, and may include:
Although these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, you should check with your doctor to get a definitive diagnosis.
Sources: National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society
Precise head and neck cancer tests are crucial for treatment planning, and City of Hope is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and specialized staff to ensure an accurate, comprehensive diagnosis of head and neck cancer.
Highlights of our screening and diagnosis services include:
Your doctor may use the following tests to look for head and neck cancer:
Based on the results of these tests, the cancer is then staged according to its size, number of lymph nodes affected and whether it has spread to nearby or distant organs. Generally, cancer caught in earlier stages will have better outcomes than those caught in advanced or metastasized stages.
There are currently no screening guidelines for head and neck cancers, since no screenings have been shown to lower risk of dying for people of average risk. However, your physician may recommend more vigorous monitoring if you are at a high risk of developing this disease, which includes:
I am privileged to have an awesome team of experts that are with me … we look at everything, we consider everything, and at the end of the day we want to be sure we can stamp the City of Hope name on that treatment plan that we are prescribing and be proud of it." Ellie Maghami, M.D., The Norman and Sadie Lee Professor in Head and Neck Cancer
Head and neck cancers are particularly unique and complex, requiring a personalized treatment plan for optimal clinical, quality-of-life and cosmetic outcomes. At City of Hope, our multidisciplinary team of medical experts across different fields —- including surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology, pathology and supportive care medicine — will review your individual case and determine the best course of therapy based on the latest evidence-based guidelines and groundbreaking research.
Our physicians are also active members in many collaborations and cooperative groups, participating in numerous clinical trials for detecting, treating and preventing head and neck cancers. This dedication to research also ensures our patients have access to the most promising and leading-edge of cancer therapies.
Learn more about our head and neck cancer treatment options below:
For early stage or locally advanced head and neck cancers, surgical removal of cancerous tissue is the primary treatment. The type of surgery varies depending on the type, size and location of the cancer.
City of Hope offers the latest advances in head and neck surgery, meaning you can achieve outcomes not possible elsewhere. This includes our surgeons’ experience and innovative approaches to cancer removal, technology for minimally invasive procedures and specialized reconstruction to preserve quality-of-life functions.
When possible, minimally invasive surgeries — which use smaller incisions compared to a traditional open procedure — will be performed. This can significantly reduce discomfort, blood loss, hospital stay and recovery time while maintaining optimal outcomes.
Highlights of our head and neck cancer surgery include:
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells. It is typically delivered externally using beams of energy focused on the tumor site.
Radiation can treat tumors that cannot be removed by surgery (sometimes shrinking them enough to be operable) and can be used to relieve pain and other cancer symptoms. It may also be used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells at the tumor site to reduce likelihood of recurrence.
City of Hope is a leader in image-driven radiation planning, using advanced imaging technologies — such as computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography scans — to determine tumor size and location and “sculpt” radiation delivery to the cancerous areas. This ensures radiation is accurately delivered to the tumor site, while minimizing exposure to nearby normal tissues.
Drug therapy may be given to patients to fight head and neck cancer cells throughout the body by killing the cancer cells or stopping their growth and spread. These drugs include:
The drug or drug combination used depends on the type and stage of head and neck cancer, previous treatments used, the patient’s health and overall treatment goals. This personalized medicine approach may be further enhanced by molecular or genetic testing of your cancer, which can help identify treatments that are more effective and/or less toxic.
City of Hope patients may also be eligible for new, promising drugs through our clinical trials program.
City of Hope’s renowned physicians and researchers utilize the latest in technology and innovation to treat cancer, coupled with our enduring belief in providing unparalleled compassionate care.
Anatomic & Clinical Pathology
Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery
At City of Hope, head and neck cancer clinicians and researchers collaborate extensively to develop and evaluate new therapies for better survival and quality-of-life outcomes. Our patients have access to a wide variety of clinical trials, including new chemotherapy and targeted therapies, novel surgical techniques, innovative radiation approaches and new prevention strategies.
These trials give current patients access to promising, leading-edge therapies and improve overall care for future patients worldwide. Visit our clinical trials page to learn more about current studies and their eligibility criteria.
Our current head and neck cancer clinical trials include:
City of Hope is a recognized leader in thyroid cancer research. We offer access to numerous clinical trials and new therapies that are not readily available elsewhere. Our latest research includes developing more precise surgical and radiation techniques for better tumor removal, identifying drugs that can better fight the cancer throughout the body and boosting quality of life for our patients and survivors.
Our current head and neck clinical trials include:
14145: Phase II Randomized Trial of Transoral Surgical Resection Followed by Low-dose or Standard-dose IMRT in Resectable p16+ Locally Advanced Oropharynx Cancer
14255: STAT3 Signaling During Chemo-Radiation for Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck
14340: A Phase II, Randomized, Open-Label, Multi-Center, Global Study of MEDI4736 Monotherapy, Tremelimumab Monotherapy, and MEDI4736 in Combination with Tremelimumab in Patients with Recurrent or Metastatic Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck (SCCHN)
14258: Randomized Phase II and Phase III Studies of Individualized Treatment for Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Based on Biomarker Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA)
09188: A Multi-Histology Phase II Study of 5-Fluoro-2'-Deoxycytidine with Tetrahydrouridine (FdCyd+THU)
Once I was done with treatments, I was hiking and getting back on track as soon as I was able." Kurt Deetz, head and neck cancer survivor
When you come to City of Hope, you automatically gain access to an unparalleled array of support services to help you and your loved ones take each step during and after your head and neck cancer treatment.
We can help with all of the following concerns, and more:
For more information about the supportive care programs we offer, please contact the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at 626-218-2273 (CARE).