Understanding Head and Neck Cancer

A diagnosis of cancer can be a scary time that leaves you unsure. You can rely on the team at Guthrie to support you through your cancer journey. We treat people like you every day by creating a plan that’s right for you, your disease, and your health.

What Is Head and Neck Cancer?

Head and Neck cancer includes a group of cancers that can develop in the lips, mouth, nose, sinuses, larynx (voice box) and salivary (spit) glands. Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), tobacco use, and heavy alcohol use increase your risk of developing head and neck cancers.

Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer

  • Lump that does not go away
  • Sore that does not heal
  • Sore throat that does not go away
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Change in voice

Consult with your primary care provider or an ear nose throat specialist right away if you have any symptoms or concerns. As with all cancers, the earlier the disease is diagnosed, the better the outcome.

Head and Neck Cancer Diagnosis

We have a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis process for head and neck cancer. You meet with a team of specialists as a group. This appointment is called a “conference.” Each doctor-- from otolaryngology, oncology, plastic and reconstructive surgery and oral surgery-- examines you. Then you and your team develop a treatment plan specifically for you and your disease.

Head and Neck Cancer Treatment

Depending on the stage, location, and extent of the cancer, your treatment may involve one or more of the following:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
    • Combined chemo radio therapy organ preservation programs
    • Immuno modulating chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
    • PET/CT imaging for staging and follow-up
    • Imaging techniques including high resolution ultrasound, interventional radiology and computed tomographic mapping for stereotactic treatment, and PET for staging and restaging of tumors
    • Intensity modulated radiation (IMR) therapy

Head and Neck Cancer Care at Guthrie

  • Board-certified specialists– our doctors are specially trained in the treatment and care of cancer. Your team includes head and neck cancer surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, oral surgeons, and plastic and reconstructive surgeons.
  • Cancer Nurse Navigator and social worker – cancer nurse navigators help you understand your diagnosis and guide you through the health system. Social workers provide emotional support.
  • Support Services – we offer speech therapy, swallowing therapy, nutrition counseling and social rehabilitation for you.
  • Clinical Trials – Guthrie Clinical Research offers you treatment options not available in most hospitals.

Services & Treatments