What to Expect

What to Expect

A diagnosis of cancer can feel overwhelming. We have an experienced, compassionate team ready to help you. At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), we view treatment as a collaborative effort, with the goal of turning cancer patients like you into survivors.

Individualized Care

All head and neck cancers are different. At SCCA, you will find a broad range of advanced treatment options. Your health care team will recommend treatment that is most likely to help you.

Before your first visit, the team will have reviewed your pathology slides (tissue samples from any biopsies) and any scans or tests you have already had. If you do not live in or near Seattle, we may ask your referring doctor to arrange for additional tests or scans so that these results are available before your appointment with us.

Based on a review of your results, next you may be seen at the Head and Neck Multidisciplinary Care Clinic. (Some new patients have their first visit elsewhere; when you call for your first appointment we’ll direct you to the right place based on your particular needs.) You will meet with your doctor, who will ask you questions about your medical history and your current problem. This will be followed by a physical exam. Then you will sit down for a conference with your doctor and other members of your team to discuss treatment options. We recommend that you bring a friend or family member with you to your appointment for emotional support and to help you keep track of the information your team will be giving you.

Your case will be presented at the Head and Neck Tumor Board, a meeting to evaluate patient treatment plans. These meetings include SCCA head and neck surgeons, reconstructive surgeons, dental surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, neuroradiologists, and pathologists, who all look at your scans and diagnosis and work together to determine the best course of action to treat your cancer. Because our doctors conduct leading-edge cancer research as well as treat patients, you can be sure that you will be offered the most promising new treatments available. 

Personal Care Team

Part of the specialized care we provide at SCCA comes from professionals who will support you as you go through treatment. They include registered nurses who will administer your chemotherapy, nutritionists who will explain which foods you should eat to help you deal with treatment and feel the best you can, and pharmacists who will help you understand the importance of your medications and how to take them. If needed, we have specially trained and certified dentists, speech therapists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists to work with you.

As you progress through treatment, your SCCA team coordinator and nurse will monitor your care. They will inform you about upcoming appointments and changes in your treatment plan, if changes are needed. They will make sure you know what you can expect during your treatment and in the days following your treatment. Your entire medical team will be looking out for you and your well-being.


Follow-up appointments with your doctor are very important to monitor your health during and after treatment to prevent possible complications from your disease and treatment. Depending on your condition, you may need follow-up visits as frequently as every week or only every six months. Your doctor can tell you how often you need to visit and why this schedule is important for you. You may be referred to the SCCA Survivorship Clinic for follow-up to help maximize your overall health after your treatment is complete.