Just like each patient, each type of head and neck cancer is unique. Thus, we customize your treatment specifically to your cancer type. City of Hope brings together world-class experts in oncology, lung diseases and surgery, radiation oncology and other medical specialties to provide the highest standard of personalized care for our patients. The course of treatment is based on the type and stage of tumor and each patient's general medical condition – with every effort made to minimize negative side effects and preserve quality of life.
Current treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these treatments. City of Hope surgeons are continually refining their techniques to treat cancer effectively while decreasing the physical impact of cancer surgery. Members of our head and neck cancer team come from a variety of disciplines and include head and neck surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists, speech language pathologists, social workers and nurse practitioners. These team members meet on a weekly basis at a multidisciplinary Tumor Board conference to discuss every head and neck cancer patient to determine the best course of treatment based on each patient’s specific situation.
Transoral laser microsurgery and transoral robotic surgery have revolutionized our ability to surgically treat head and neck cancers.
With transoral laser microsurgery (TLM), a procedure widely used for tumors of the throat and larynx (voice box), the surgeon inserts a thin endoscope through the mouth, and a specially designed microscope enables the surgeon to see the tumor and surrounding tissue during the surgery. Highly specialized carbon dioxide (CO2) laser beams are used instead of a scalpel to cut through tissue.
TLM offers several important benefits:
Unlike other types of lasers, the CO2 laser beam generates minimal heat energy, thus minimizing damage to normal structures around the tumor such as important nerves, blood vessels and muscles that are important for speech and swallowing.
Because it is performed directly through the mouth, TLM does not leave a visible scar.
TLM offers an individualized approach to treatment. Different types of laser systems are used depending on the specific type of procedure being performed. For example, one type employs a robotic adapter to create precise incisions. Another system designed specifically for larynx and vocal-cord surgery uses a computer program to drive a “joystick” on an operating microscope. The flexible, fiber-optic CO2 laser reaches areas in the throat that otherwise could not be reached and performs a 360-degree resection around tumors in ways that were previously impossible. Another type of laser is designed to minimize blood loss for surgeries in which the risk of bleeding is high.
Transoral robotic surgery (TORS) is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat both benign and cancerous lesions of the throat, including the oropharynx, larynx and hypopharynx. To perform TORS, physicians use a guided endoscope that helps create a high-resolution 3D image of the back of the mouth and throat -- a difficult area to reach with conventional tools. Two robotically guided instruments that act as a surgeon’s arms cut the tumor away from surrounding tissue.
Key benefits of TORS:
It is performed through the mouth without the need for skin incisions or extensive dissection, so it leaves no visible scars.
The procedure results in less blood loss and faster healing than conventional open surgery.
There is minimal swelling.
A temporary tracheostomy usually is not needed.
There is less impact on the patient’s ability to speak and swallow.
It can significantly decrease the overall dose of radiation needed for head and neck cancer patients, limiting the adverse effects of radiation therapy
General anesthesia is used for TLM and TORS. Your City of Hope doctor will help you decide if these treatments are right for you.
The surgical removal of head and neck cancer may result in a range of physical defects and functional deficits. Our head and neck surgery team includes facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons who employ the latest surgical techniques to ensure optimal functional and cosmetic outcomes.
For head and neck cancer patients requiring radiation treatment, City of Hope radiation oncologists use state-of-the-art techniques including helical TomoTherapy which combines spiral CT scanning and intensity modulated radiation therapy to more accurately and precisely treat tumors while sparing normal surrounding tissues. Our surgeons, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists are actively involved in ongoing research to ensure that the best practices are being employed to achieve the best outcomes for our patients.
If you have been diagnosed with a head or neck cancer, we’re here to help. City of Hope is committed to making the process of becoming a patient here as easy as possible. Call 800-826-HOPE (4673)
or complete the
online appointment form.