Head & Neck Cancers

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What to Expect

All tumors and all cases of head and neck cancer are not the same. The treatment that a friend or relative received may not be the best treatment for you. Take some time to make a decision about treatment. In most cases, you have time to consider your options and get a second opinion to help you decide what kind of treatment is right for you.

Expert Medical Team

SCCA’s head and neck medical team includes specialists from the following specialties:

  • Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Maxillofacial Prosthodontics
  • Oral Medicine
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Medical Oncology
  • Neuroradiology
  • Speech Pathology
  • Other allied health services

The staff includes medical assistants, patient care coordinators, speech and language pathologists, and audiologists as well as experts in neurology, rehabilitation medicine, respiratory therapy, physical therapy, and others.
 

Support During Treatment

A diagnosis of cancer or other serious illness can feel overwhelming. We have an experienced, compassionate team of specialists ready to help you adjust to what’s happening. We have dedicated information for patient’s Practical & Emotional Support. Ask someone you trust to go with you to doctors' appointments and tests. This person can provide emotional support. A friend can also help by keeping track of the questions you want to ask, taking notes and doing research on your disease and treatment options. 

Where You Will Be Seen

SCCA is one of only three facilities in the United States to offer neutron therapy, a type of radiation therapy shown to be very effective against salivary gland tumors. If your team at SCCA recommends neutron therapy for you, the unique Clinical Neutron Therapy System (CNTS) is available at University of Washington Medical Center, one of our parent organizations.

Your First Visit

You will have a personal care team at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance that includes a head and neck surgeon, hematologist/oncologist, nurse case manager, and a radiation oncologist, if needed.

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 at SCCA.

On your first visit to SCCA, you will first 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 a treatment plan. This visit usually lasts two hours. 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.

Follow-Up

Continuing to have follow-up appointments with your doctor is very important to monitor your health during and after treatment to prevent possible complications of 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.