Healing the Mind and Body

Comprehensive Head and Neck Cancer Treatment

Surgical Options

Our head and neck cancer program is designed for your healing. We’re here for you with a wide variety of treatments and procedures to help you overcome cancer and empower you to feel whole again.

Support Group Therapies

When it comes to head and neck cancer, you aren’t alone. There are a variety of non-medical treatments to ease the stress of any cancer diagnosis. Let us help you on your road to healing.

Better Head and Neck Cancer Treatments

Better Outcomes

No two cancers are the same. No two treatment plans are the same, either. That’s why we take a whole-person approach to your health and wellness by treating not only the body, but also your mind and spirit. Here, you can feel confident you’ve found the right team.

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Signs and Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer

Because cancers of the head and neck involve normal functions such as swallowing and breathing, head and neck cancer symptoms may seem vague. If you’re concerned that any persistent symptom could be a sign of cancer, talk to your doctor.

Warning signs of head and neck cancer can include:

  • Blood in your saliva or phlegm
  • Constant sore throat (common with neck cancer)
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing (common with mouth cancer)
  • Double vision 
  • Ear pain or infections
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent nose bleeds (common with nose cancer)
  • Hoarseness 
  • Jaw pain
  • Loose teeth
  • Lumps or masses on your head or neck 
  • Numbness or weakness in the head and neck 
  • Persistent nasal congestion
  • Red or white patches in your mouth
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Strong mouth odor 
  • Swelling
  • Trouble breathing
  • Unexplained weight loss
Screening and Diagnosis

Regular screenings are recommended for anyone who regularly drinks alcohol or uses tobacco products. It’s a quick procedure in which a doctor looks for anything unusual in your nose, mouth and throat, as well as any lumps in your neck. Regular dental checkups are also suggested. 

The most common diagnostic tool is a biopsy, which involves removing a small sample of a possibly cancerous area for further testing. Other diagnostic procedures can include:

  • Bone scans to see if cancer has spread to your bones
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans to measure the size of a potential tumor
  • Endoscopy to see inside your body 
  • Molecular testing to identify specific traits of a tumor to guide treatment
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for detailed images of soft tissues like the tonsils and tongue
  • Ultrasound to create a picture of your internal organs
  • X-ray or barium swallow to identify abnormalities around your swallowing path
Head and Neck Cancers We Treat

Our head and neck oncology team treat a variety of cancers of the head and neck, including:

  • Hypopharyngeal cancer
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Salivary gland tumors
  • Thyroid cancer
Causes and Risk Factors

Alcohol and tobacco use significantly increase your risk of head and neck cancer. Other factors include:

  • Age (anyone over age 40 is at a higher risk)
  • Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mono
  • Gender (men are up to three times as likely to get neck cancer)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Poor nutrition
  • Too much exposure to the sun
  • Weakened immune system

If you feel like you’re showing any head and neck cancer signs based on these risk factors, talk to your doctor immediately.

Preventing Head and Neck Cancer

Different factors can cause a variety of cancers related to the head and neck. Some common ways to prevent these types of cancer include:

  • Avoiding alcohol, vaping, tobacco or marijuana products
  • Getting an HPV vaccine
  • Maintaining your dental health properly
  • Wearing sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher)
Stages of Head and Neck Cancer

The American Joint Committee on Cancer developed the acronym TNM for a cancer staging system:

  • T (tumor): the size of the primary tumor
  • N (node): lymph nodes are involved
  • M (metastasis): cancer has spread

Your cancer care team will identify and explain the stages of cancer and your treatment options. 

Treatment Options

As you begin treatment, it’s important to know that because no two cancers are the same, your oncology team will personalize your course of treatment, prescribing individual therapies as needed. Depending on your diagnosis, your treatment plan may include:

Using a combination of specialized intravenous medications, chemotherapy can destroy or slow down the growth of fast-growing cancer cells in every part of your body. 

At AdventHealth Cancer Center Shawnee Mission, our oncology experts take an individualized approach to your chemotherapy treatment. Depending on your type of head or neck cancer, we’ll collaborate with you on which medication combination is best for you. Chemotherapy may be used in combination with surgery or radiation therapy. 

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy targets specific areas of the body, shrinking tumors and killing cancer cells by damaging their DNA. When treating cancers of the head and neck, radiation therapy is usually delivered through:

  • External radiation, which delivers radiation in a concentrated beam to keep nearby healthy tissue unaffected
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which sees the tumor in its 3D form and directs intense beams in a more targeted procedure

Depending on your type of cancer, surgery could include one or more of the following procedures:

  • Excision (for cancerous tissue) 
  • Glossectomy (for tongue)
  • Mandibulectomy (for lower jaw)
  • Maxillectomy (for upper jaw)
  • Microvascular reconstruction (for head and neck)
  • Neck dissection (for lymph nodes) 
  • Open surgical excision (for cancerous tissue)
  • Transoral laser microsurgery (removes tumors through the mouth)
  • Transoral robotic surgery (removes tumors through the mouth with the help of a robotic surgical system)
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Expert Treatment, Compassionate Support

Head and Neck Cancer Care You Can Count On

You’ve got this, because you’ve got us. Get the expert care and support you need to face cancer and reclaim your life. Contact our cancer center today at Call913-632-9100. You can also click the button below to find a physician near you.