Specialized Care to Help Your Child Heal and Thrive
At AdventHealth for Children, we know that anything impacting your child’s health can be scary, especially a tumor. Children are not little adults — they require different, customized care to meet their specific needs both now and as they grow. That is why we established our Pediatric Head and Neck Tumor Center and Pediatric Dentofacial and Jaw Anomalies Center.
We’re one of the first comprehensive programs of this kind in the country. Based in Orlando, we also offer second opinions and virtual consultations for families outside Central Florida. Our expert multidisciplinary team is experienced in treating a full range of children’s head and neck tumors — both benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) — including some of the rarest and most complex conditions.
Our pediatric head and neck surgeons are ready to help. To get started, request an appointment and our Nurse Care Coordinator will contact you.
Expertise in Pediatric Head and Neck Tumors
While head and neck tumors are rare in children, these masses of abnormal cells can significantly impact your child’s health and quality of life. Many tumors are benign, but some can be malignant. Our highly specialized multidisciplinary team uses the most advanced diagnostic, surgical removal, reconstruction and rehabilitative techniques to achieve the best possible outcome for children with the following conditions:
- Benign craniofacial bone tumors
- Benign neurogenic tumors
- Branchial cleft and other neck anomalies
- Malignant craniofacial bone cancers
- Neurogenic cancerous tumors
- Odontogenic bone tumors
- Salivary anomalies and cancer
- Skin lesions and cancer
- Thyroid nodules and tumors
- Vascular anomalies
Our Dedicated Pediatric Dentofacial and Jaw Anomalies Center
At AdventHealth for Children, we developed one of the country’s first centers dedicated to the treatment of dental and facial issues that can occur in children with head and neck tumors.
While radiation and chemotherapy are often important parts of an overall treatment plan for a child who has cancer, these therapies can have side effects that negatively impact the appearance, growth and function of the teeth, jaw or face. Our specialized team proactively identifies and addresses these concerns, providing comprehensive care for a full range of dentofacial and jaw conditions, including:
- Airway/nasal obstruction
- Migraine neuropathy
- Non-odontogenic/odontogenic anomalies
- Temporomandibular joint anomalies
- Other maxillofacial anomalies
Hear From Our Patients: Zoe’s Story of Healing
When Zoe found a painful mass in her neck, her mom Yonaliz took her to AdventHealth for Children. Our Chief of Pediatric Head and Neck Surgery, Joseph Lopez, MD, MBA, was able to remove the entire tumor. Yonaliz said she trusted God’s plans — and Dr. Lopez’s capable hands — with her daughter's life. Zoe never required any additional treatment and was able to get back to being a typical teen.
Preparing for Your Child’s Surgery
An upcoming surgery can be stressful for the whole family. Rest assured our experienced team utilizes the latest techniques and technology to ensure your child’s procedure is as precise and efficient as possible. And we’re here to support you every step of the way.
Head and neck tumors in children can often be located in areas that are difficult to access. Abnormal growths can also occur near critical arteries, veins, nerves and growth centers. That’s why it’s important to have your child’s surgery performed by an experienced pediatric head and neck surgeon who understands these unique challenges. AdventHealth for Children uses computer-aided design and computer-aided modeling (CAD/CAM) to precisely plan and personalize your child’s surgery.
This state-of-the-art surgical planning approach can lead to a shorter, safer surgery, better surgical margins (the edge or border of the tissue removed in surgery), higher-quality reconstruction, and optimization of any radiation required during surgery.
Learning that your child needs head or neck surgery can be overwhelming. We’re here to help answer your questions and guide you through each step of the process. In fact, one of our specially trained children’s health navigators will serve as your family’s personal care coordinator throughout your child’s care journey.
Because of our experience and specialization, patients travel from all over the world to receive head and neck surgical care at AdventHealth for Children. As a result, we have additional resources to support families who are away from home during their child’s care.
To request a virtual appointment, call us at 407-821-3655
Meet Our Team
At AdventHealth for Children, we have assembled a highly specialized, collaborative team dedicated to caring for your child in body, mind and spirit.
Medical Director Dr. Joseph Lopez
Joseph Lopez, MD, MBA, the first dual fellowship-trained head and neck surgeon and pediatric plastic craniofacial surgeon in the United States, serves as our Chief of Pediatric Head and Neck Surgery at AdventHealth for Children. Fluent in English and Spanish, he believes in providing surgical care that not only allows children to achieve a tumor-free life, but also accommodates their future growth and development. Learn more about his care philosophy and his passion for meeting the unique needs of children with head and neck tumors.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
We understand that families facing surgery have many questions about our program and their child’s care plan. Below, find helpful answers to FAQs about what to expect.
Question: Why is it important to have a pediatric head and neck surgeon care for my child?Answer:
Head and neck tumors can present and behave differently in children than adults. Our pediatric head and neck surgeons have completed specialized, multi-year medical training (fellowships) in oncology, head and neck surgery, and pediatric surgery.
Oncology is a medical specialty focused on diagnosing, treating and preventing cancer. Having a surgeon who is trained in the multidisciplinary oncologic treatment of head and neck tumors is critical to achieving the best possible outcome for patients who have or are at risk of developing cancer.
Pediatric surgical training is also important. Children have different anatomy than adults — they tend to be smaller, and their skeleton and face grow at different rates depending on their age. Pediatric surgeons understand these differences along with children’s breathing, swallowing, speech, hearing, vision and dental development.
At AdventHealth for Children, all of this specialized training and experience equips our pediatric head and neck surgeons to develop a surgical and reconstructive treatment plan designed specifically for your child to optimize healing, appearance and function.
Question: How should I prepare for our first appointment?Answer:
Before your appointment, please gather and share with us any clinical information that may be relevant to your child’s care, including the following:
Clinical imaging such as ultrasound, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography) scans
Clinical photos, if available
Laboratory and pathology reports
Prior clinical notes
Question: What happens during our appointment?Answer:
We will review all the clinical information that has been provided to us and discuss any additional diagnostic information we may need, such as imaging, biopsies or molecular testing. Our team may also arrange to discuss your child’s case at our multidisciplinary tumor board meeting to determine treatment recommendations and next steps.
Question: What happens after the appointment?Answer:
Our team will remain in close contact with you after your appointment and coordinate any additional tests, exams or treatments that may be needed to manage your child’s care.
Question: How are my child’s age and growth considered when surgery is recommended?Answer:
A child’s age and growth are two critical factors we consider when developing a head and neck surgical treatment plan. At AdventHealth for Children, we incorporate methods to reduce the negative effects of any adjuvant therapy (like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy or targeted therapy) that may be needed to fully treat your child’s condition. Some of these therapies can affect craniofacial growth centers, and our team works to reduce the risk of any jaw dysfunction or abnormal skeletal growth in your child’s face.
Your child’s age is also important since it may impact reconstruction. For example, very young children may not qualify for microvascular-based reconstructive techniques due to the size of their anatomy, so we may need to use other innovative reconstruction options instead.