Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer includes several types of tumors that occur in the head and neck. The most common include:

  • Squamous cell cancers of the head and neck
  • Salivary gland cancers
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Skin cancers of the head and neck

Depending on where the cancer presents itself, it may be called oral (mouth) cancer, laryngeal (larynx) cancer, pharyngeal (throat) cancer, tongue cancer, or nose or nasal cavity cancer.

Head and neck cancer patients not only have the physical and emotional struggles that all oncology patients face, but they also have the special challenges associated with a disease that can affect speech, swallowing, and appearance. Things we take for granted, such as smelling a flower, enjoying a family dinner, and sometimes simply breathing, take on new importance when cancer affects the most visible part of our bodies.

It’s important for patients to choose a cancer program that can provide both comprehensive care as well as support services, including reconstructive surgery and speech and swallowing therapy. When detected early, head and neck cancer is often curable.

An integrated team of specialists who are the best in their respective fields delivers the best care for patients. Patients with head and neck cancer will find an exceptional team at UT Southwestern. Our surgeons work with radiation and medical oncologists, oral and reconstructive surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists, and a vast network of physicians and other professionals at UT Southwestern. 

This point was brought home when we successfully treated a patient with a large tumor that was blocking the trachea and obstructing the patient’s breathing. Although the patient required surgery, giving anesthesia (which inhibits respiration) was potentially risky since her breathing was already compromised. The expert team of head and neck anesthesiologists at UT Southwestern led by Kevin Klein, M.D., made sure that her operation proceeded safely and successfully. 

Program Highlights

As an academic medical center and the only cancer program in North Texas designated by the National Cancer Institute, UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center has an experienced multidisciplinary team of experts to take care of you and your family during your journey with head and neck cancer.

Our team of head and neck cancer specialists treats only head and neck cancer. At other medical institutions in the community, your surgeon or medical oncologist may see only a few cases of head and neck cancer a year. We see hundreds. That gives us a level of expertise that’s unmatched in the area and is on par with top cancer programs across the nation.

How We Can Help

At UT Southwestern, our head and neck cancer patients have access to the latest and most effective treatments and deliver care in a convenient environment.

We offer:

  • Every type of surgery for head and neck cancer. There is no surgery or surgical technique for head and neck cancer that we don’t offer
  • World-class radiation techniques, including stereotactic body radiation. This is a precise type of radiation performed only by leading experts
  • Cutting-edge medical therapies, including the latest chemotherapies and immunotherapies
  • The most advanced imaging available anywhere, which leads to a more accurate diagnosis and targeted treatment
  • Clinical trials that provide access to treatments that are available only at top cancer centers
  • Research that turns into cancer diagnostics and treatments of the future. For example, we developed a sensor that illuminates and detects cancer tissue. It will start the first phase of clinical trials in 2017
  • A team of dentists who provides prevention and treatment of radiation-induced tooth decay, mucositis, and dry mouth
  • A range of rehabilitation services, including occupational, physical, and speech therapy as well as lymphedema therapy
  • Counseling services for patients dealing with the emotional and psychological stress of head and neck cancer

Request an Appointment

To schedule a visit with a head and neck cancer specialist at UT Southwestern’s facilities in Dallas or to learn more about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.