Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute | Head & Neck Cancer Program

The Program  |  Our Team  |  Treatment Options  |  Patient Resources

The Head & Neck Cancer Program at Hartford Hospital offers the most advanced treatment options for head and neck cancers.

These cancers include malignant and benign tumors of the mouth/oral cavity, throat cancer, tumors of the larynx (or voicebox), salivary gland and thyroid gland, and tumors of the sinuses and skull base.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed of these cancers. Treatment of Head and Neck tumors often includes a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Our fellowship-trained Head and Neck surgeons offer specialized expertise in surgical oncology, micro-vascular reconstructive surgery, and skull-base surgical procedures. Radiation oncologists with specialized training in state of the art radiation techniques maximize targeted treatment of Head and Neck cancers while minimizing side effects to vital tissue in the brain, spinal cord, and eyes. Medical oncologists use targeted protocols to maximize treatment effects from surgery and/or radiation. As a cancer research center, clinical trials are an integral part of our program and are recommended when appropriate.

Our Team

A Multidisciplinary Team Offers Comprehensive Care
Our multidisciplinary team of surgical, medical, and radiation oncologists develop a comprehensive care plan for each patient’s unique issues. They have all of the resources of a large research institution at their disposal. The treatment of Head and Neck cancers often results in significant functional problems such as difficulty with swallowing, breathing and speaking. Cosmetics and appearance can be a major concern. Our team is distinguished by its focus on the best possible outcomes for each patient, offering minimally invasive trans-oral surgical approaches, trans-nasal endoscopic techniques and major reconstructive surgery when needed.

Rehabilitation from Head and Neck cancer treatment is often long and difficult. Speech therapists, physical therapists and nutritionists are integral to the recovery process. Our speech therapists work intensively to assist with voice recovery and alternative modes of communication, such using an electrolarynx or esophageal speech, and are vital to teaching swallowing techniques. The nutritionists on our team keep patients optimally nourished in preparation for and during challenging cancer treatments. Due to the inherent intensive rehabilitation, patients appreciate being able to stay close to home with local support services.

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Treatment Options

Diagnosis and Treatment for Head and Neck Cancers
Head and neck cancer accounts for 3-5% of all cancers in the United States. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common, arising from the mucosal lining of the mouth, throat, sinuses, or larynx. Salivary gland tumors are more rare - tumors of the parotid gland, submandibular gland or minor salivary glands in the oral cavity and throat.

Thyroid cancer is typically thought of separately from other Head and Neck cancers. Thyroid cancer has a much higher survival rate compared to other Head and Neck cancers, and treatment strategies typically have fewer side effects.

Patients with initial symptoms of Head and Neck cancer often notice an asymptomatic neck mass, hoarseness or voice disturbances, difficulty or pain with swallowing, throat pain, or ear pain. Community physicians are encouraged to refer patients with concerning symptoms to our Head and Neck Cancer specialists for evaluation. We offer state of the art surgical procedures, the latest drug therapies and leading-edge medical technologies.

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Patient Resources

Head and Neck Cancer Resources
Nurses, nurse navigators, social workers, psychologists and physicians at Hartford Hospital provide medical, psychological and emotional counseling. They can help patients through the tough times and provide guidance and advice after treatment is completed. Nurse navigators are a resource for patients and families as they steer through a maze of personal questions and decisions.

Hartford Hospital also offers online support through CHESS, the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System. This online cancer education and information database also offers a forum to connect with other patients for support.

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