Head and Neck Cancer
Head and neck cancers start in the mouth, throat, voice box, nose or sinuses. They may also start in the nasopharynx, which lies between the nose and throat. Many of these cancers can be cured, especially when they are found early.
- Care at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
- Groups, Classes & Support
- Research & Clinical Trials
- Symptoms, Diagnosis & Outlook
Care at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
The best care for head and neck cancer comes from a team of experts. At Hershey Medical Center, it starts with a careful evaluation. Our specialists provide a precise diagnosis to guide your treatment.
Our team of cancer care specialists plans your treatment. Head and neck cancers are usually treated with either surgery or radiation. If the cancer is advanced you may need both. In some cases chemotherapy is used to make the other treatments work better.
Before your treatments you will meet with the specialists who will be taking care of you. Besides your surgeon, you may talk with a radiation oncologist who treats cancer with radiation. A medical oncologist may also be part of your team. These doctors treat cancer with chemotherapy.
Whatever treatments you have, your team will take time to answer your questions and give you personalized care. As a major academic hospital, Hershey Medical Center provides the complex care often needed to treat people with head and neck cancer.
Groups, Classes & Support
Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer (SPOHNC) offers a support group for people with these types of cancers. The organization also raises awareness and provides resources and publications. We are pleased to have a local chapter of SPOHNC here at Hershey Medical Center.
Date: Fourth Sunday of each month
Time: 2 to 3:30 p.m.
Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
University Conference Center, Room 302B
Hershey, PA 17033
Additional information: Contact Nurse Facilitator Patrice Saurman, RN, BSN, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Research & Clinical Trials
Our researchers have published and presented numerous studies. Here are some examples.
Pachuski J, Vaida S, Donahue K, Roberts J, Kunselman A, Oberman B, Patel H, Goldenberg D. Effect of Laryngotracheal Topical Anesthesia on Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Monitoring During Thyroid Surgery. Journal of Clinical Anesthesiology 2016; 29:10-13.
Payne SJ, Mitzner R, Kunchala S, Roland L, McGinn JD. Acute Invasive Fungal Rhinosinusitis: A 15-Year Experience with 41 Patients. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2016; pii: 0194599815627786.
Elghouche A, Shokri T, Qin Y, Wargo S, Citrin D, Van Waes C. Unilateral Cervical Polyneuropathies following Concurrent Bortezomib, Cetuximab, and Radiotherapy for Head and Neck Cancer. Case Reports in Otolaryngology; 2016 1-5.
Bann DV, Goldenberg D. Four cystic parathyroid adenomas in 71-year-old male. ENT. J 2016; 95(1):21-2.
Pachuski J, Vaida S, Donahue K, Roberts J, Kunselman A, Oberman B, Patel H,
Goldenberg D. Effect of laryngotracheal topical anesthesia on recurrent laryngeal nerve monitoring during thyroid Surgery. J Clin Anesth 2016; 29:10-3.
Lighthall JG, Sidman JD. Closure of palatal fistulae. Oper Tech Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2015; 26(3): 161-7.
Payne SJ, Albert T, Lighthall JG. Management of Ameloblastoma in the Pediatric Population. Oper Tech Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2015; 26(3)168-174.
Shah-Becker S, Oberman BS, May JG. Scalping of a Newborn: Complication During Cesarean Section. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 2015; 10 (3): 53-55.
Shah-Becker S, Oberman BS, May JG, Scalping of a newborn: Complication during cesarean section. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology Extra, April 2015.
Bann DV, Zacharia T, Goldenberg D, Goyal N. Parathyroid localization using 4D-computed tomography. ENT J 2015; 94(4-5):E55-7.
Magreni A, Bann DV, Schubart J, Goldenberg D. The effects of race and ethnicity on the rise in thyroid cancer incidence. JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery 2015;141(4):319-23.
DiSalvo D, Oberman B, Warrick J, Goldenberg D. Pharyngeal Presentation of Goltz Syndrome: A Case Report with Review of the Literature. Head and Neck Pathology Epub ahead of print, 2015; pp 1-4.
Oberman, B., Khaku, A., Camacho, F., Goldenberg, D. Relationship Between Obesity, Diabetes, and the Risk of Thyroid Cancer. American Journal of Otolaryngology 2015; 36 (4) 535-541. PMID: 25794786
Magister, M., Crist, H., Oberman, B. Rapid Progression of Necrotic Lesion of the Mandibular Gingiva in a Pancytopenic Patient. JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery 2015; 17:1-3.
Patel HH, Siltumens A, Bess L, Camacho F, Goldenberg D. The decline of tracheotomy among otolaryngologists: a 14-year review. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2015 152(3):465-9. Epub 2015 Jan 5.
Straight CE, Patel HH, Lehman EB, Carr MM. Prevalence of smoke exposure amongst children who undergo tonsillectomy for recurrent tonsillitis. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol 2015 79(2):157-60. Epub 2014 Dec 3.
Baker A, Carr MM. “Surgical Treatment of Ankyloglossia” Operative Techniques in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 2015
Saadi R, Oberman B, Crist H, Lighthall J. Subcutaneous Nasal Angioleiomyoma: Case of a Rare Tumor and Review of the Literature. 2016 Triological Society Surgery / Combined Otolaryngology Spring Meetings. poster presentation
Saadi R, Oberman B, Lighthall J. Classification and Treatment Protocol for Pediatric Facial Dog Bites with Associated Fractures. 2016 American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery / Combined Otolaryngology Spring Meetings. poster presentation
Oberman B, Baker A, Warrick J, Andrews G. Intranasal Acetaminophen Abuse: A Case Report and Review of the Literature. 2015 American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery OTO Expo. poster presentation
Patel V, Oberman B, Zacharia T, Isildak H. Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings in Ménière’s Disease. 2015 American Neurotologic Society / Combined Otolaryngology Spring Meetings poster presentation
Use of intraoperative indocyanine green to assess perfusion of a pedicled submental island flap for reconstruction of an orocutaneous fistula. AAFPRS Spring Scientific Meeting in conjunction with COSM Spring Meetings Chicago, Il. May 2016. Poster.
AAO-HNSF 2015 Annual Meeting and Oto Expo. Dallas, TX. September 2015. Podium. October 2015.
2015 Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery. Hershey, PA. June 2015. Podium.
Comparison of outcomes - Management of the middle vault in open versus endonasal elective rhinoplasty. AAFPRS Spring Scientific Meeting in conjunction with COSM Spring Meetings. Boston, MA. April 2015. Podium.
Anti-pseudomonal Activity of Taste Receptor Agonists and Antagonists. 2015 ARS at COSM. Boston, MA. April 2015. Poster.
Stefani Schwartz, B.S., Shivani Shah-Becker, M.D., Nicole Williams, M.D., Genevieve Ann Andrews, M.D. Cutaneous Extension of Parotid Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma from a Malignantly transformed Warthin Tumor mimicking Primary Cutaneous Adnexal Carcinoma.
Shivani Shah-Becker, M.D., Christopher Roberts, B.S., Jonathan Derr, M.S., Khaled Sedeek, M.D., Michele Carr, D.D.S. M.D. Ph.D. Intraoperative IV Acetaminophen for Pain Control following Pediatric Tonsillectomy. Oral presentation at AAO-HNS (Dallas, Tx), Sept 2015.
Shivani Shah-Becker, M.D., T. Thomas Zacharia, M.D., Paul Kalapos, M.D., Eric Schaefer Ph.D., Kevin Moser, Ph.D., David Goldenberg, M.D. 4D-CT scoring and protocol optimization of parathyroid adenomas. Challenging diagnosis made simple. Poster presented at COSM Annual Meeting (Boston, MA), April 2015
Hussain S, O’Connell A, Carr M. Post-operative time to rebleed in post-tonsillectomy hemorrhage patients: a retrospective analysis. Pennsylvania Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Annual Meeting. June 2015. Poster Presentation
O’Connell A, Hu A. Evaluating the Quality and Readability of Swallowing Treatment Resources on the Internet. Pennsylvania Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Annual Meeting. June 2015. E-poster Presentation
Tanner AM, O’Connell A, Karikari K, Roberts C, Wiltz D, Carr M. Factors related to persisting perforations after ventilation tube insertion. Pennsylvania Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Annual Meeting. June 2015. E-poster Presentation
O’Connell Ferster A, Schaeffer E, Schubart J, Carr M. Ancillary Medications and Outcomes in Post-tonsillectomy Patients.
O’Connell Ferster Timeliness of Treatment for Head and Neck Cancer Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Pennsylvania Academy of Otolaryngology, June 20 2015.
O’Connell Ferster Magnetic Resonance Findings in Ménière’s Disease. American Neurotology Society, April 25 2015.
Bann DV, Sheldon KE, Houser K, Zhang L, Broach J, and Goldenberg D. Variations in genome structure between follicular variant and highly aggressive papillary thyroid cancer. 2016 Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium. February 18 - 20, 2016. Scottsdale, AZ.
Bann DV, Kim Y, Zacharia T, and Goldenberg D. The effect of aging on the anatomic position of the thyroid gland. American Society for Geriatric Otolaryngology Annual Meeting (part of the 2016 Triological Society Combined Sections Meeting). January 22-24, 2016. Miami, FL.
Bann DV, Sheldon KE, Houser K, Zhang L, Broach J, and Goldenberg D. De novo genome mapping of a follicular variant papillary thyroid cancer. 15th International Thyroid Congress. October 18-23, 2015. Lake Buena Vista, FL.
Bann DV, Lin J, Camacho F, Goldenberg D, and Goyal N. Disease- and treatment-specific variables predicting papillary thyroid cancer recurrence. 15th International Thyroid Congress. October 18-23, 2015. Lake Buena Vista, FL.
Bann DV and Goldenberg D. Four cystic parathyroid adenomas in a 71-year-old male. Pennsylvania Academy of Otolaryngology 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting, Hershey, PA. June 19-20th, 2015.
Symptoms, Diagnosis & Outlook
Symptoms for this type of cancer vary according to where it occurs. Here are signs and symptoms to watch for.
Cancer of the mouth or throat can cause:
- An ulcer or lump in the mouth that bleeds easily and does not heal
- A persistent red or white patch, lump or thickening in the mouth
- Ear pain
- A neck mass or lump
- Coughing up blood
- Trouble chewing
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble moving the tongue or jaws
Cancer of the larynx (voice box) can cause:
- Hoarse or weak voice
- Trouble breathing
- Coughing up blood
- Trouble swallowing
- Ear pain
A neck mass or lump Cancer of the nose, sinus or nasopharynx (the area between the nose and throat) can cause:
- Trouble breathing through the nose
- Headache and/or facial pain
- Vision problems
- Ear fullness
- A neck mass or lump
Diagnosing head and neck cancer
If you have symptoms of head or neck cancer, a Hershey Medical Center specialist will interview and examine you. This is usually done by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon, also called an otolaryngologist, who is specially trained to care for patients with head and neck cancer. Your specialist will ask many questions about your symptoms.
Your doctor will then examine the problem area. He or she may use a thin, flexible scope to get the best view of your throat and voice box. This is usually done during your office visit.
If your exam shows that you may have a cancer, you will have a biopsy. With this test, the doctor takes a small piece of tissue from the problem area and sends it to a lab. The report from the lab shows if the area is cancerous. A biopsy can sometimes be done in the office under local anesthesia. Other times, you will need to be in an operating room.
Your doctor may also order imaging tests that can show where the cancer is and if it has spread. These tests include:
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
If your tests show that you have cancer, our head and neck cancer specialists will recommend treatment that is the best for you.
Outlook & Prognosis
The outlook for people with head and neck cancer
About 4 percent of all cancers in the U.S. occur in the head and neck. The outcome of treatment for these cancers depends on several things. Some types of cancer are easier to cure than others, and the location of the cancer also makes a difference. Completing all your treatments gives you the best chance for a cure. Also, people with good overall health may do better with treatment.
Cancers that are found early are more likely to be cured. Head and neck cancer that is advanced needs more intense treatment. However, many people with these cancers can also be cured.