Director, Maimonides Cancer Center: Chair, Dept. of Radiation Oncology
Chief, Plastic Surgery
Our Treatment Services
Treatment plans for head and neck tumors can involve surgery, radiation therapy, systemic therapy such as chemotherapy – or any combination of the three. The Maimonides Cancer Center’s multidisciplinary team provides the most up-to-date treatment approaches for all of these therapies, and our specialists all work closely together to develop a unified treatment plan that incorporates the best thinking of the entire team.
While early diagnosis and treatment can improve the chances of a good outcome, treatment options and prognoses for head and neck cancers are also based on tumor type, location and size of the tumor, and tumor grade (how abnormal the cells are), as well as the patient’s age, medical history and general health.
Because of the complexity of head and neck cancers and their impact on a patient’s quality of life, experts at the Maimonides Cancer Center are committed to emphasizing the most organ-preserving approaches that also offer the best outcomes in terms of a cure. We only recommend surgery when it is necessary, and we always consider alternatives involving radiation therapy and chemotherapy to preserve the best quality of life for our patients.
A surgical procedure to remove the tumor is often the first treatment step for many head and neck cancers, although some advanced tumors might require an initial treatment of radiation or chemotherapy.
At the Maimonides Cancer Center, our state-of-the-art surgical procedure suite features the latest technologies, including the most advanced imaging equipment for intraoperative guidance, and our board-certified surgeons have extensive experience and high success rates with both traditional “open” surgeries and the latest minimally invasive techniques.
Minimally invasive surgical techniques minimize the trauma of more traditional surgery, allow for a faster recovery, and help our patients avoid longer hospitalizations. Many head and neck tumors can be removed using minimally invasive surgery, and our surgeons will recommend this type of surgery whenever it is appropriate for the patient.
During minimally invasive surgery, the surgeon makes one or more tiny incisions to insert a tube called an endoscope. Miniature video cameras and specially designed surgical instruments can then be inserted through the tube or tubes to allow the surgeon to perform the procedure without ever making a large incision.
In addition to removing the primary tumor in the head and neck, the surgeon may need to remove some or all of the lymph nodes in the neck (a neck dissection) to examine them for cancer cells and determine if the cancer has spread. We utilize the latest surgical techniques to remove these lymph nodes while sparing important nerves.
Depending on the extent and the location of the cancer, reconstructive surgery might be necessary following the cancer treatment. Patients might have reconstructive surgery to restore appearance or to help them improve such functions as chewing, swallowing or speaking.
At the Maimonides Cancer Center, our head and neck cancer specialists collaborate closely with plastic surgeons as part of the overall treatment planning. Experts at performing sophisticated reconstructions of the head and neck, our plastic surgeons have extensive experience in microvascular free-flap reconstruction, in which tissue from another part of the body (such as the back or abdomen) is used to replace part of the scalp, neck, tongue or throat.
Radiation therapy might be used as part of the treatment for head and neck cancers – either before or after surgery, on its own, or in conjunction with chemotherapy.
The radiation oncologists and medical physicists and therapists at Maimonides dedicate themselves to providing all patients with care that is state-of-the-art, evidence-based, and individualized for each patient. Every member of our radiation oncology team has extensive experience in the latest techniques which ensure the highest chance of obtaining a cure, while minimizing the risks of radiation side effects.
The Maimonides Cancer Center features the most sophisticated treatment planning equipment available to pinpoint tumors and spare normal tissue any unnecessary toxicity. Once a treatment plan is developed, our radiation oncology team uses the most up-to-date technology available for radiation delivery, including Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), 3-Dimensional Conformal Radiotherapy (3D-CRT), and High Dose Rate Remote Afterloading Brachytherapy.
All of these advanced therapies are delivered in a radiation therapy unit that has received recognition as one of the safest and most accurate units in the country.
Chemotherapy or other systemic therapies might also be used in conjunction with radiation therapy, especially for those head and neck cancers that are difficult for surgeons to reach or that cannot be cured by surgery alone.
Members of our medical oncology team specialize in the various head and neck cancers, and have the knowledge and expertise necessary to develop individualized treatment protocols that meet the specific needs of each patient. All of our patients receive their chemotherapy treatments in Maimonides’ beautiful, modern infusion suite.
Maimonides medical oncologists follow the latest treatment guidelines of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and are also involved with clinical research protocols for innovative agents or dosing methods. This ensures that our patients have access to state-of-the-art therapies that are not widely available elsewhere.