Diseases and Conditions
Head and Neck Cancer
More than 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with cancers of the head and neck each year. Symptoms usually appear only in the advanced stages. However, with an early diagnosis, the prognosis can be excellent. Nowhere is there a more advanced or skilled approach to diagnosis and treatment of head and neck cancers than at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care.
A Team Approach with Customized Treatments
We treat all cancers of the oral cavity, larynx, throat and neck as well as cancers of the pharynx (the tube leading from the back of the nose to the esophagus and trachea). Employing a multidisciplinary approach, we combine the expertise of numerous specialists including surgeons, radiation therapists, oncologists, speech and swallowing specialists, oral surgeons, radiologists and pathologists.
Our accomplished staff works as a team from diagnosis and evaluation through treatment and rehabilitation. Employing a multidisciplinary approach, medical experts from various disciplines collaborate to provide patients with the most effective, individualized treatment plan possible, while nurturing them throughout their fight with cancer. Treatment options generally involve some combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery.
Innovation in Head and Neck Cancer Care
Our surgical strengths include extensive experience with such innovative procedures as endoscopic larynx surgery for advanced-stage larynx cancer. Montefiore is one of only a few centers in the New York metropolitan area that performs this minimally invasive technique, which helps preserve the voice and ability to swallow.
Our Head and Neck Cancer Program is a leader in vision-sparing sinus cancer surgery, using partial orbit surgery that removes the cancer while preserving the patient's sight. In addition, we are one of a small number of U.S. facilities capable of performing advanced surgery for tumors at the base of the skull.
Patients have access to a full complement of advanced treatments. In addition to minimally invasive surgery, the Center for Cancer Care offers targeted radiation and chemotherapy approaches to maximize tumor dose and protect healthy tissue:
- Radiation targeting with PET imaging
- Adaptive IMRT in which beam dosage is changed as the tumor shrinks and changes shape after each of several treatments
- Chemotherapy drugs, used before and with radiation, to have the most significant effect on the cancer.
- Biologic therapy, including Erbitux (cetuximab), and other highly selective agents
Superior Techniques to Preserve Quality of Life
Our advancements in treating larynx cancer include ways to reconstruct the voice box to provide patients with a voice that doesn't sound mechanical or require the use of hands to talk. We rely on a unique drug therapy during radiation to protect the salivary glands and throat, minimizing post-therapy dry mouth.
Leaders in Research
Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care is known for its excellence in research. One example is our current involvement in gene expression patterns. Our goal is to develop a reliable test that will allow us to analyze patients' cancer cells to determine the most effective therapies and the likelihood of recurrence. Also, our research on swallowing function after radiation and chemotherapy has placed us at the forefront of our field.
Treating the Whole Patient
At Montefiore, we take the whole patient, as well as the family, into consideration in determining the best course of treatment. We consider a variety of factors—from how geographical distance will affect access to treatment, to how much support a patient enjoys from family and friends. We closely monitor patient progress and make adjustments if necessary.
We understand the emotional and psychological concerns of patients with head and neck cancers. The areas involved are central to human identity and functioning, and we strive to preserve maximum functionality.
Together, our exceptionally skilled staff and diagnostic and treatment innovations offer our patients outstanding care and treatment for head and neck cancer.