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Head & Neck Cancer

Cancers of the head and neck cover a wide spectrum, including cancers of the skin, throat, larynx, mouth, nasal passages and thyroid. With new and exciting radiation therapies, imaging capabilities and a committed group of physicians who take a multidisciplinary approach to care, CHI Memorial Rees Skillern Cancer Institute is a distinguished leader in the treatment of these cancers.


Head and neck cancers are generally addressed with surgery and a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. Treatment options depend on the stage of your cancer.

To determine a treatment plan, your case is presented at a regularly scheduled tumor conference. Specialists from many areas, including Head and Neck specialists, surgeons, radiation oncology, surgical medical oncology, plastic surgery and speech pathology, will use their expertise to agree on a suggested course of treatment. This is like receiving multiple second opinions all at once and is a great benefit to your care.


The development of Intensity - Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) has proven extremely beneficial in the treatment of head and neck cancers. Using computer - guided, pinpoint precision, the radiation is delivered in higher doses without significant damage to surrounding tissue.

Technological advances in imaging, such as 3 - D MRI, provide a picture that almost dissects the tumor and surrounding tissues. This is essential in providing exact direction for treatment. PET scans are used routinely to complete staging of your cancer. Sentinel node biopsies are performed on patients meeting nationally determined guidelines (during surgery) that help determine the spread of head and neck cancers and melanoma.

Support at every step

At CHI Memorial Rees Skillern Cancer Institute, anyone diagnosed with cancer has access to a nurse navigator, a designated point of contact who can educate you on the disease process, answer questions, help you prepare physically and emotionally for treatment, provide resources and connect you with other modes of support throughout this journey. Nutrition is a concern for many head and neck cancer patients. Dietitians at CHI Memorial’s Center for Cancer Support offer advice and support to patients and family members who need to select appropriate food choices. Visit CHI Memorial Center for Cancer Support or call (423) 495-7778 for more information.