Head and Neck Cancer

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What is
Head and Neck Cancer?

Head and neck cancer refers to tumors that occur in the lining of the nose, mouth (oral cancer) or throat as well as cancers of the thyroid, parathyroid, and salivary glands.

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Michael Kostic Read more Patient Stories
Michael Kostic considers himself very lucky to be alive. "I was totally devastated," Michael admitted. "My family recommended we go to Fox Chase Cancer Center," said Michael. "It was the best choice we could have made." With the help of all of his head and neck cancer team members, Michael resumed his normal activities.

Doctors also include advanced skin cancers of the head and neck (scalp, ears, face and neck) under the category of "head and neck cancer."

Thyroid and Parathyroid Cancer

The diagnosis of thyroid cancer is increasing faster than any other malignancy partly due to increased detection of small tumors with ultrasound, CT scans and PET scans.   It is estimated that there will be about 48,020 new cases of thyroid cancer diagnosed in 2011 in the United States.  Thyroid cancer is one of the most curable cancers with excellent survival rates in the majority of cases.  There are nearly 500,000 cancer survivors in the United States.
More on thyroid cancer »

Parathyroid cancer is a very rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of a parathyroid gland.
More on parathyroid cancer »

Head and Neck Cancer Symptoms

Possible signs of laryngeal cancer include a sore throat and ear pain. Laryngeal cancer is a disease in which cancer forms in the tissues of the larynx (voice box). Your risk of laryngeal cancer is directly related to tobacco use and alcohol consumption. Causes of oral cavity and pharynx cancer also include extensive use of tobacco and alcohol. You should alert your doctor at the first suspected sign of throat cancer.

Many patients with early thyroid cancer have no noticeable symptoms. As the cancer grows, a swelling or lump on the front of the neck is often the first symptom. Thyroid nodules are common and are usually painless. The vast majority of them are benign.
Read more on thyroid cancer symptoms »

Latest Head and Neck Cancer Treatment Options

Head and neck cancer treatment is quite complex because of the importance of the head and neck region for appearance, eating and speaking. For this reason, head and neck cancer treatment is done best by teams of individuals working together to manage all aspects of the illness. Fox Chase Cancer Center's head and neck cancer team provides the complex multispecialty treatment needed to achieve the best outcome for patients with this type of cancer.

Surgical oncologist John A Ridge, MD, PhD
Surgical Oncologist
John A Ridge, MD, PhD

At Philadelphia's Fox Chase Cancer Center, we offer our patients:

  • World-class doctors in surgical, medical and radiation oncology, many of whom have helped define and continue to set the standard of care for head and neck cancer treatment.
  • Depth of experience in evaluating and treating patients with head and neck cancer because our doctors specialize in this disease.
  • Doctors who regularly work together and see patients with their colleagues in the same clinic. In some cases, a patient can see multiple specialists in the same clinic visit.
  • Unique depth in key ancillary services such as social work, nutrition, speech therapy, pain management and rehabilitation medicine as well as patient support groups. All of these are crucial to make head and neck cancer treatment easier and promote recovery.
  • Clinical trials for each stage and type of disease, many of them designed and led by Fox Chase doctors.
  • Access to novel agents, especially targeted therapies such as monoclonal antibodies and signaling inhibitors as well as the latest in radiation treatment techniques.
  • A cancer prevention program doing research on prevention and early detection of head and neck cancer.

Head and Neck Nurse Navigator

Patients who come to the Center for head and neck treatment are offered individualized, compassionate care with a focus on wellness, stress reduction and quality of life and access to our full scope of research opportunities, with a personal guide to help the patient navgate the details.
Meet the Nurse Navigator »

Rehabilitation and Support Along With Your Treatment

Fox Chase hosts a twice-monthly laryngectomy support group for patients who have had this procedure.

For information on brain tumors, please see our Neuro-Oncology Program.

MyBiopsy.org
Cancer diagnosis information for patients from the College of American Pathologists

Fox Chase's head and neck cancer team has worked together for years to give outstanding care to patients with this complex but often curable illness.

As one of the nation's ten best head and neck cancer centers, Fox Chase Cancer Center combines advances in technology with specialized rehabilitation services to meet the specific needs of our head and neck cancer patients. Our team focuses not only on treating your cancer, but also on helping you retain function and physical appearance. We also offer care for healthy, high-risk individuals, such as those with precancerous changes in the mouth and throat.

Survivor Clinic

Following successful treatment for thyroid cancer, Fox Chase patients may be seen by an Advance Practice Clinician in the Survivor Clinic.

For more information about head and neck cancer treatment and prevention at Fox Chase Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call 1-888-FOX CHASE (1-888-369-2427).

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Resources and Education for Patients and their families

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See National Cancer Institute information on

See National Cancer Institute information on Oral Cancer

Blue Distinction

Blue Cross/Blue Shield

Fox Chase is a Blue Distinction Center for Head and Neck Cancer Treatment
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