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Head and Neck Cancer Program

The Head and Neck Cancer Program at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Chicago, uses a variety of sophisticated technologies and evidence-based therapies to treat patients diagnosed with various types and stages of head and neck cancers, including laryngeal cancer, hypopharyngeal cancer, nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, salivary gland cancer, oral cancer and thyroid cancer.

Your treatment options

Our multidisciplinary team of head and neck cancer experts and specialists work together, all under one roof, to develop a treatment plan tailored to each patient’s needs, communicating regularly and adjusting the treatment plan when necessary.

Treatment for head and neck cancer often involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy, either alone or in a combination of two or more.

Standard treatments

Surgery

Tumor removal: Surgery, to remove the tumor and affected surrounding tissue, is typically the first line of treatment for this cancer.

Reconstructive: Our board-certified plastic surgeons also use a variety of technologies to repair areas of the head and neck using reconstructive microsurgery technologies. These procedures are designed to rebuild the nose, tongue or throat using tissues from other areas of the body. Patients who have had a laryngectomy to remove their voice box may also choose to undergo a tracheoesophageal puncture, which is used to help patients speak.

Learn more about surgical treatment options

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy may be recommended to destroy cancer cells, shrink tumors and alleviate symptoms, using highly targeted X-rays or radioactive substances. Radiation for head and neck cancer patients may be used either as the main treatment or after surgery to kill microscopic disease. Radiation therapy may be given alone or in combination with other treatments.

Brachytherapy is a form of radiation therapy that, may be used during surgery to radiate small areas of cancer and reduce damage to healthy tissue.

Stereotactic radiosurgery, a non-invasive option for patients with inoperable or surgically complex tumors as an alternative to surgery, may also allow our radiation oncologists to deliver high doses of radiation to a targeted area.

Learn more about radiation therapy treatment options

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is often used to treat head and neck cancer patients when the disease has spread to the lungs or elsewhere in the body. The drugs are designed to help slow or stop the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often combined with radiation for upfront therapy as well.

Learn more about chemotherapy treatment options

Hyperthermia

Hyperthermia (which means "elevated temperature") destroys cancer cells by raising the temperature of a tumor. During a hyperthermia treatment, the tumor is heated to between 40° and 45° C (104° - 113° F). Since cancer cells cannot tolerate high temperatures as well as healthy cells, parts of the cancer cells can become damaged by the heat. When appropriate, this treatment option may also be used in conjunction with radiation therapy.  

Precision cancer treatments

Every head and neck cancer is as different as the patient battling it. Each has genomic differences unique to that patient’s tumor. The tools of precision cancer treatment allow us to examine certain cancers at a cellular level in search of abnormalities that may be driving the cancer’s behavior, and if possible, match those mutations to drugs that are designed to target them. Options the team may recommend include:

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy uses drugs to trigger the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. Checkpoint inhibitors are a type of immunotherapy designed to disrupt the signaling proteins that allow cancer cells to disguise themselves from the immune system. Immunotherapy drugs may be used in conjunction with radiation therapy, if it is part of the designed treatment plan.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy uses drugs that target a specific tumor behavior. Advanced genomic testing may be used to sequence the tumor’s DNA profile to help identify whether the tumor has mutations that may be targeted with existing drugs. Targeted therapy drugs may be used in conjunction with radiation therapy, if part of the designed treatment plan.

Learn more about precision cancer treatment options

After your treatment has ended, your head and neck cancer team will continue to follow up on your progress with scans, blood work and routine physical exams to monitor for cancer recurrence.

Meet our Head and Neck Cancer Program team

The experts who make up the Head and Neck Cancer Program at CTCA Chicago are committed to offering integrative, state-of-the-art treatments for head and neck related diseases. Explore the links below to learn more about the team.

Carol Bier-Laning - Otolaryngologist

Carol Bier-Laning

Otolaryngologist, CTCA Chicago

Bruce Gershenhorn - Medical Oncologist

Bruce Gershenhorn

Medical Director, Lung Cancer Center, CTCA Chicago

Laure Farrington - Medical Oncologist

Laura Farrington

Medical Oncologist, CTCA Chicago

Revathi Suppiah - Medical Oncologist

Revathi Suppiah

Medical Oncologist, CTCA Chicago

Evan Pisick - Medical Oncologist

Evan Pisick

Medical Oncologist, CTCA Chicago

Hatem Halabi - Assistant Director of the GI Cancer Institute

Hatem Halabi

Vice Chair, CTCA Department of Surgery

Kamal Patel - Medical Director, Radiation Oncology

Kamal Patel

Medical Director, Radiation Oncology, CTCA Chicago

Karen Smorowski - Radiation Oncologist

Karen Smorowski

Radiation Oncologist, CTCA Chicago

Karan Shah

Radiation Oncologist, CTCA Chicago

Aaron Pelletier - Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon

Aaron Pelletier

Chief of Surgery, CTCA Chicago

Daniel Liu - Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon

Daniel Liu

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, CTCA Chicago

ann marie naber

Ann-Marie Naber

Speech Therapist

brianna welbourn

Brianna Welbourn

Speech-Language Pathologist

Comprehensive, integrative approach

This collaborative, personalized approach allows us flexibility along the treatment journey, while also fostering an environment where experts in a variety of disciplines work together, all under one roof. New options may arise or different goals may be proposed during the course of treatment. We monitor the patient throughout treatment and adjust the care plan as needed.

Head and neck cancer patients can experience a variety of side effects. Our multidisciplinary care team works closely with patients to help anticipate, manage and, when possible, avoid cancer-related side effects. Side-effect-management options for patients with head and neck cancer may include nutritional support and speech therapy as well as pain management, naturopathic, psychosocial and spiritual support.

Learn more about the value of integrative care

"I met with my care team to evaluate my specific cancer and discuss treatment. Everyone was so warm, and made us feel safe and at peace. There is simply a wonderful atmosphere of togetherness at the hospital, and I knew it was where I wanted to go for treatment. Later, I learned that is one of the guiding principles of CTCA, the Mother Standard of care—to treat patients as you would any member of your own family."

Hector Nunez

Hector N.

Head and Neck Cancer

MORE ABOUT HECTOR

More About HECTOR

Where we are located

CTCA Chicago

Head and Neck Cancer Program
2520 Elisha Ave.
Zion, IL 60099
New Patients: 855-635-3218
Existing Patients: 847-510-CTCA

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