Head & Neck (Throat) Cancer
This year, nearly 65,000 people will develop head and neck cancer in the U.S. In the Gulf South region, one of the leading treatment centers for these kinds of cancers is Ochsner. With a combination of state-of-the-art imaging, minimally invasive techniques and a level of experience second to none, we make important decisions about the extent of the treatment required. We do all we can to preserve your appearance as well as your abilities to speak, swallow, taste and hear. We’re not here only to save your life – we’re relentless about preserving the quality of your life.
Why Ochsner for Head & Neck Cancer Care?
At Ochsner, you’ll find award-winning, patient-centered, specialty care by professionals who, by and large, treat these kinds of cancers exclusively. The Ochsner Head and Neck Surgical Oncology program is composed of a multi-disciplinary team includes:
- Nationally renowned board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons
- Radiation and medical oncology experts
- A nurse practitioner who treats patients and also heads up our Survivorship Clinic
- A team of nurses with deep experience in caring for patients before, during and after surgery
- A dedicated nurse navigator who provides convenient scheduling and directs patients and families to community resources, including speech therapy, nutrition advice and psychosocial oncology
With some of the leading head and neck oncology surgeons in your own backyard, backed by the region’s top multi-specialty team, there’s no reason to seek treatment away from home and family.
To make an appointment with an Ochsner head and neck oncology surgeon, call 504-842-4080.
Meet the Team
Our team of specialists include the following care providers:
Conditions We Treat
Ochsner otolaryngologists provide specialty care for patients with cancerous and noncancerous tumors in the head and neck. Conditions we treat include:
- Benign and malignant salivary gland tumors
- Neck masses (Benign/Malignant)
- Thyroid nodules
- Thyroid cancer
- Vocal fold paralysis
- Anterior/lateral base of skull malignancies
- Cutaneous malignancies
- Oral cavity cancer
- Oropharyngeal cancer
- Nasal cavity cancer
- Paranasal sinus cancer
- Nasopharyngeal cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
- Hypopharyngeal cancer
Treatments We Offer
Successful treatment for head and neck cancer often involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or various combinations of the three. In addition to tumor removal, the goals of successful treatment include restoration of swallowing, eating, speaking and cosmetic/functional reconstruction when indicated. Our team performs the following procedures:
- Laser Surgery of the Larynx and Upper Airway
- Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS)
- Open and endoscopic skull base surgery
- Resection of malignant head and neck tumors of the oral cavity, pharynx and larynx
- Complex reconstructive surgery including free tissue transfer
In addition, our patients benefit from the following:
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Dietary counseling
- Speech therapy
- Psychosocial oncology support
Causes of Head and Neck Cancers
At least 75% of head and neck cancers are caused by alcohol and tobacco use (including chewing tobacco or snuff). Infection with certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV), especially HPV type 16, is a risk factor for some types of head and neck cancers as well. The good news is these cancers can be easily preventable and are very treatable if caught early.
Other risk factors for cancers of the head and neck include:
- Paan (betel quid)
- Preserved or salted foods
- Poor oral hygiene and missing teeth
- Occupational exposure to certain chemicals/substances
- Radiation exposure
- Epstein-Barr virus
Side Effects of Treatment
Patients with head and neck cancer often have to deal with unpleasant side effects. Please report any side effects to your doctor or nurse for a discussion on how best to deal with them. Depending on the treatment you receive, may experience the following:
- Difficulties with speech, chewing or swallowing
- Swelling of the face and neck may that usually goes away within a few weeks but may last a long time
- Numbness in the neck where nerves have been cut.
- Weakness and stiffness in the shoulder and neck if lymph nodes in the neck were removed,
- Redness, irritation, and sores in the mouth
- Dry mouth or thickened saliva
- Changes in taste or loss of taste
- Decrease in appetite
- Swelling or drooping of the skin under the chin
- Changes in the texture of the skin
- Stiffness of the jaw
What is Eye Cancer?
Eye cancer is a very rare kind of cancer that starts somewhere in or on the eye (on the surface, on the iris, or within the eye beneath the retina) or in the skin of cells around the eye (the eyelid). Because it is so rare, it is best for a person diagnosed with eye cancer to seek treatment from someone who specializes in this field. A person can ask their doctor to refer them to an eye cancer specialist.
Types of Eye Cancer
There are different kinds of eye cancers. Below are some of the places near or on the eye where cancers can grow and the types that may be present on each one of these places:
- Eyelid tumors. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of eyelid cancer. It can be removed with surgery. Other types of eyelid tumors include squamous cell carcinoma, sebaceous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.
- Tumors that grow on the surface of the eye (conjunctival tumors). Conjunctival tumors include squamous carcinomas, malignant melanomas, and lymphomas.
- Tumors that grow in the colored part of the eye or iris tumors. These tumors include melanomas.
- Choroid tumors. These are tumors that grow in the layer of blood vessels that support the retina. They include melanoma, choroidal nevus, and choroidal osteoma.
- Retinoblastoma. This is a cancer of the eye that affects children. It is extremely rare in adults.
Cancers of the Eyelid
Cancer of the eyelid is actually a type of skin cancer, not an eye cancer. The treatment most commonly used for cancer of the eyelid is surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove all of the cancer. The type of surgery used depends on the size of the tumor. If the tumor requires removal of most of the eyelid, the eyelid will be remade (reconstructed) using plastic surgery. In some cases, radiation may be needed after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may have been left behind. Radiation will usually affect eyesight.
Ochsner’s Endocrinology Division provides care to essentially all of the clinic’s thyroid cancer patients. These cases usually develop through a thyroid nodule that is discovered by the patient, provider or even a radiologic test undertaken for a completely different reason.
Call 504-842-3910 for more information or to make an appointment.
The patient is referred to Ochsner’s Endocrinology Division for a risk assessment and an FNA procedure, also known as a Fine Needle Aspiration procedure. A decision can then be made by the patient regarding surgery options or other follow-ups.
Ochsner offers treatment for head and neck cancer at the following locations.
Ochsner is always searching for new and better ways to treat head and neck cancers.
A second opinion from one of the top head and neck surgeons in the region will give you reassurance that your diagnosis is correct and that you’re getting the right care. Call 504-842-4080 to learn more.
To refer a patient to the Head and Neck Surgical Oncology team, contact our nurse navigator, Daphne Black, BSN, RN-BC, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 504-842-7689