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Head and Neck Cancer Prevention & Diagnostic Services

Early detection and accurate diagnosis are essential components of a successful treatment plan for head and neck cancers. The Maimonides Cancer Center offers both the expertise and the state-of-the-art technology necessary to ensure the most precise diagnosis possible.

A thorough head and neck exam is the first diagnostic step. This exam is often performed using endoscopy, a relatively painless procedure in which a small, flexible instrument is placed through the nose to allow the physician to visualize the head and neck's interior structures.

Following the exam, one or more imaging studies may be performed. Our highly qualified imaging specialists use the most advanced technology available to pinpoint the precise location of the tumor, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, computed tomography (CT) scans, and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans. For a potential thyroid cancer, a thyroid ultrasound may be performed.

To confirm a tumor, our physicians will perform a biopsy, removal of a tissue sample. With the help of our expert interventional radiologists and our state-of-the-art technology, we can perform image-guided biopsies that allow us to biopsy more difficult-to-reach sites in the head and neck.

Following the biopsy, the Maimonides Cancer Center pathology team provides expert review and diagnosis of the specimen to determine if there is a tumor present and, if so, if it's malignant or benign. Our pathologists have extensive experience in diagnosing a wide range of head and neck tumors, and they play a vital role in developing the treatment plan.

In addition, throat cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) have increased in recent years. These throat cancers are more treatable than those not caused by the virus, so we also routinely test all oropharynx biopsies for HPV as part of our treatment planning.  We also test all nasopharynx biopsies for EBV.