Head & Neck Oncology

Eastern Carolina Ear, Nose & Throat - Head and Neck Surgery provides comprehensive care for patients with cancer of the face, oral cavity, throat, neck, and ear.

About Head and Neck Cancer
Some of the common symptoms of cancer of the head and neck include persistent pain in the throat, pain or difficulty with swallowing, persistent hoarseness and bleeding in the mouth or throat. Approximately half of all cancers in the head and neck originate in the oral cavity. The most common causes for cancer of the head and neck are smoking and heavy alcohol intake. Head and neck cancers are one of a very small number of cancers that are very strongly related to causative factors (smoking and alcohol). In fact, it is quite rare to see head and neck cancer in patients who do not smoke or drink excessive alcohol; however, occasionally this does occur.

What Steps are Needed?
The first step of head and neck cancer is establishing a diagnosis. A lesion which is suspected to be a possible cancer is biopsied. This involves sending a piece of the tissue to the laboratory for examination. Occasionally, this can be performed in the office and sometimes this must be performed in the Operating Room under anesthesia in order to see and evaluate the area fully. Once a diagnosis is established, then the stage of the lesion is determined. The staging ranges from Stage I - Stage IV. Stage I represents the least extensive disease and Stage IV the more extensive. The staging is used to determine what options for treatment are available for the patient. The various treatment options include surgery, radiation and sometimes chemotherapy. Each of these treatments may be used alone or in combintation depending on the exact type of cancer and the stage.

The Tumor Board
A multi-disciplinary tumor board for head and neck cancer meets on a regular basis to bring together the head and neck surgeons (Eastern Carolina ENT) and doctors who provide chemotherapy and radiation. By bringing all these physicians together on a regular basis, treatment options for each patient are discussed in order to offer all potential options to each patient and to identify the best potential options for each patient as well. The results of these confidential discussions are then brought back to the patient to allow the patient and head and neck surgeon to work together to choose a treatment plan.

Importance of Follow Up
After treatment for head and neck cancer, we believe very strongly in regular follow- up. This is necessary in order to watch for any recurrence of the tumor and to identify it early.

Eastern Carolina E•N•T Head & Neck Surgery © 2016