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Head and Neck Cancer 


The Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary management of benign and malignant tumors of the head and neck region.  This includes, but is not limited to, tumors of the:

  • oral cavity
  • salivary glands
  • larynx and pharynx
  • thyroid and parathyroid glands
  • nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses
  • large or aggressive skin cancers, including melanoma

Specialty trained providers such as the management team, includes head and neck surgeons, radiologists, endocrinologists, pathologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and dental oncologists.  Other members of this team are speech pathologists, audiologists, social workers, and advance practice nurses.

Every new patient referred to our Head and Neck Oncology Clinic for a new cancerous or non-cancerous tumor can be seen by one of our head and neck surgeons, usually within a week.  Appropriate diagnostic studies or tests are frequently also arranged for the day of the initial visit.  These may include CT scan, MRI scan, fine needle biopsy, or laryngopharyngoscopy.  PET/CT scanning is used to allow for early detection of cancer spread, and to monitor patients for post-treatment recurrence. 

Treatment of malignant (cancerous) tumors often involves surgery, however, both surgical and non-surgical treatment options are discussed: The non-surgical treatments often involve concurrent radiation therapy and chemotherapy.  We also participate in national and institutional clinical trails designed to identify better or alternative management of tumors of the head and neck.  One new trial is evaluating Lymphoseek ® for sentinel lymph node biopsy.  Our surgeons are experienced in the surgical treatment of head and neck tumors, including microvascular skills that allow for state-of-the-art free flap reconstruction of complex bone and soft tissue defects. When appropriate, voice-preserving, partial laryngectomy procedures are offered as treatment alternatives.  In addition, our surgeons can treat early cancers of the larynx with endoscopic laser excision, and offer transoral laser resections of certain tumors of the oral cavity and oropharynx.

The diagnostic evaluation and treatment of patients with head and neck tumors is the beginning of a program of comprehensive management.  Our program also emphasizes rehabilitation and functional restoration after treatment.  Speech therapists and physical therapists are frequently asked to assist in a patient's recovery.  Speech and swallowing restoration with experienced therapists will result in an improved quality of life after cancer treatment.  Our program also offers voice restoration after laryngectomy including voice prosthesis procedures.  Once treated, our patients are followed regularly for a minimum of five years.

Patients with thyroid or parathyroid neoplastic disorders can be evaluated in our interdisciplinary thyroid/parathyroid specialty clinic.  Surgeons and endocrinologists both evaluate and determine a treatment plan.  The endocrinologist is skilled at ultrasonographic evaluation of the thyroid and parathyroid glands, as well as ultrasound guided fine needle biopsy of thyroid nodules.  Biopsy results are often available and called to the patient within 24 hours.

Our Head and Neck Oncology Clinics are located at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.  The thyroid and parathyroid interdisciplinary clinics are located at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center and at the MU University Physicians Medical Building.

Ellis Fischel Cancer Center:                            (573) 882-8445
University Physicians Medical Buliding:        (573) 882-7903

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