Head and Neck Cancer Program

Our Head and Neck Cancer Program offers specialized care for the diagnosis and treatment of Head and Neck Cancers.  

Back to Cancer Programs

About Our Head and Neck Cancer Program

The Head and Neck Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Oncology Institute sees highly specialized head and neck surgeons work closely with medical oncologists and radiation oncologists to develop an optimal treatment plan for each patient, that will help to preserve a long-term quality of life.  

Our tertiary care services, including head and neck surgery and microvascular reconstruction, are complemented by a range of other services. These include speech and swallowing therapists to help patients regain lost function, and nutritional therapists to ensure patients with swallowing challenges maintain a healthy weight.  

Each of our patients receives a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan developed by our multidisciplinary team of specialists who sit to review each of our patients to ensure the best clinical management decisions and tailored treatment plan is achieved. This tumor board and multidisciplinary approach to complete care means our patients benefit from several expert opinions, including those from various subspecialities for their diagnosis, treatment, and overall care.  

Head and Neck Cancer Program
  • Why Choose Us?
  • What We Treat
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis and Treatment
  • Prevention & Screening
  • Program Caregivers

Why Choose Us?

The Head and Neck Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi strives to provide the highest standards of treatment and care for patients, close to home. This includes the use of minimally invasive techniques such as trans-oral robotic surgery for oropharyngeal and laryngeal cancers, when clinically appropriate. The use of such techniques, offered as part of our Oncology Programs, allows for a better quality of life post-surgery.  

The Program also provides definitive surgical management for advanced laryngeal cancers, head and neck microvascular reconstructive surgery and free tissue transfer, and regional flap reconstruction for head and neck cancer defects as part of our multidisciplinary approach to each cancer patient.

Eye Cancer Program

What We Treat

Head and neck cancer is a category to describe cancers that occur in the head and neck region. These cancers usually begin in cells which line the mucosal surfaces of the head and neck, such as inside the nose, mouth, throat and voice box. This also includes cancers of the thyroid and salivary glands.  

The Head and Neck Cancer program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi treats the following:  

  • Thyroid and parathyroid cancers (Endocrine Cancer Program): Cancer found in the thyroid and parathyroid gland. 
  • Nasopharynx cancer: Cancer is found in the tissues of the upper throat, behind the nose. 
  • Oropharynx cancer: Cancer is found in the back of the middle part of the throat, including the soft palate, tongue and tonsils.  
  • Hypopharynx cancer: Cancer is found in the tissue of the bottom of the throat, behind the voice box. 
  • Paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity (nasal) cancers: Cancer is found in the tissues that form in the small hollow spaces in the bones of the head surrounding the nose (paranasal sinuses) and the hollow space inside the nose (nasal cavity).  
  • Oral cavity cancer: Cancer is found in the oral cavity, including the lips, the front region of the tongue, the floor of the mouth and the hard palate (roof) of the mouth.   
  • Salivary gland cancer: Cancer is found in the salivary glands. These glands are found below the tongue, on the sides of the face and include those on the floor of the mouth and under the jawbone.  
  • Larynx (voice box) or laryngeal cancers: Cancer cells are found on the mucosal surface, also known as squamous cell carcinoma or SCC. Less common is cancer cells in this area found in the muscles, cartilage, and other structural parts. 
  • Ears: Lymph nodes in the front part of the neck 
  • Melanoma: Melanoma is a cancer that begins in melanocytes, the cells which give skin its color or pigment.  
  • Squamous cell skin cancer of the head and neck: This is a type of nonmelanoma malignancy. It is the second most common form of skin cancer.  
  • Basal cell skin cancer of the head and neck: Basal cell cancers are a type of nonmelanoma also that arise from abnormal basal cells, the cells in the outermost layer of our skin. 
  • Sarcoma skin cancer of the head and neck: Cancer cells begin in the soft tissues of the body. This includes the muscles, connective tissue and vessels.
Eye Cancer Program

Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors

Symptoms of Head & Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer symptoms are often mild and can be similar to less serious conditions such as a sore throat or cold. The signs and symptoms depend on the size and location of the cancer in this area. Symptoms include: 

  • New bump or lump on the neck or face 
  • A mouth or tongue sore which doesn’t heal 
  • An ongoing sore throat 
  • A white or red patch on the tongue, gums or lining of the mouth 
  • Frequent sinus infections that do not respond to antibiotics 
  • Swelling in the jaw, particularly noticeable if it is causing dentures to fit poorly or be uncomfortable 
  • Swelling in the neck and/or side of the face 
  • Frequent headaches 
  • Neck pain that won't go away 
  • Unusual bleeding from the nose or mouth, or blood in your saliva 
  • Pain in the upper teeth 
  • Trouble swallowing 
  • Trouble speaking or breathing 
  • Ear pain 
  • A change in voice. 

Causes & Risk Factors of Head & Neck Cancer

There are two main risk factors for head and neck cancers:  

Smoking: Tobacco use, including cigarettes, shisha, medwakh, cigars and pipes, is the biggest risk factor for head and neck cancer. Doctors estimate that as many as 70% to 80% of all head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco use. Secondhand smoke may also increase the risk. 

Alcohol: Heavy consumption of alcohol increases the risk of developing cancer in the mouth, larynx, pharynx, and esophagus.  

Other factors that may increase the risk of developing head and neck cancer include: 

  • Prolonged sun exposure: Linked to cancer in the lip area and skin cancer of the head and neck, including melanomas and basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. 
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): Infection with certain strains of HPV is a risk factor for head and neck cancer.  
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV): Exposure may play a role in the development of nasopharyngeal cancer. 
  • Gender: Men are more than twice as likely to develop this type of cancer than women (although rates in women are increasing).  
  • Being over 40. 
  • Poor oral and dental hygiene. 
  • Environmental inhalants: Asbestos, paint fumes, wood dust, and certain chemicals might increase the risk of head and neck cancer. 
  • Poor nutrition: A lack of vitamins A and B may increase the risk of head and neck cancer. 
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPRD): The reflux of stomach acid into the upper airway and throat may increase the risk of head and neck cancer. 
  • A weak immune system. 
  • Exposure to radiation: Associated with thyroid and salivary gland cancer. 
  • Previous history of head and neck cancer.

However, many patients who develop head and neck cancer have no identified risk factors.  

Eye Cancer Program

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of Head and Neck Cancer  

Head and neck cancers are diagnosed by clinical examinations and specialized tests and procedures.  

Diagnostic tests may include:  

  • A physical examination of the nasal and oral cavities, and the neck, throat, and tongue. 
  • Office endoscopy: A test that uses a thin, flexible tube with a camera to examine the area concerned. 
  • Laboratory tests: Including blood tests. 
  • Head and neck imaging studies: Including CT scans, MRIs, or PET scans and ultrasounds 
  • Biopsy: A procedure done to collect a sample of abnormal tissue mass. The biopsy is then examined for abnormal, cancerous cells. 

Treatment of Head and Neck Cancer 

Early detection is key to successful treatment of head and neck cancers. Treatment options for head and neck cancer differ for each patient, depending on the type of cancer, its stage (how advanced the cancer is) and the exact diagnosis.  

In general, the three main types of treatment for head and neck cancers are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Some patients may receive all three treatments.  

  • Surgery: Removal of the tumor and a section of surrounding healthy tissue. The lymph nodes may also be removed from the neck if the doctor thinks the cancer has spread. 
  • Chemotherapy: This involves taking medication that targets and kills cancer cells. The type of chemotherapy you receive will depend on many factors, including the type and stage of your cancer.  
  • Radiation: A high dose of radiation is delivered to kill cancer cells. A device which delivers radioactive pellets can be placed internally, near the cancer, or an external device can send radiation beams to the targeted area. 

Surgery on the head and neck areas may change the patient’s appearance and ability to chew, talk, and swallow. For these reasons, patients may require reconstructive surgery and speech therapy after surgery. 

Innovative Approaches to Complex Head and Neck Surgery

At Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, we are at the very forefront of life-saving and life-changing head and neck surgery. Thanks to our innovation and expertise within the field, we are improving outcomes for patients.

Learn More
Eye Cancer Program

Prevention & Screening

Exposure to certain risk factors can put you at an increased risk of developing head and neck cancer. To reduce the risk, doctors recommend:  

  • Quitting smoking: Stop all forms of tobacco (cigarettes, shisha, medwakh, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco).  
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. 
  • Consider having the HPV vaccine: It is most effective in preventing HPV if given at a young age (up to age 26). 

Being familiar with the symptoms of head and neck cancers, and always reporting the first sign of them to your doctor, can also prevent cancers from progressing. do to protect your eyes, and always have any symptoms checked out immediately.

Eye Cancer Program

Program Caregivers

The Head and Neck Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a multidisciplinary collaboration across teams of skilled caregivers including: 

  • Head and neck surgeons 
  • Radiologists 
  • Medical oncologists 
  • Radiation oncologists 
  • Pathologists 
  • Anesthesiologists 
  • Intensivists 
  • Specialized nursing staff 
  • Speech therapists 
  • Clinical dietetics and nutrition services 
  • Respiratory therapists 
  • Pain management practitioners 
  • Case managers 
  • Social workers.
Eye Cancer Program

Head and Neck Cancer Program Doctors

Meet the doctors who can help with Head and Neck Cancer

Loading data please wait ...

Loading data please wait ...

To request an appointment, call 800 8 2223

Patient Stories

Hear inspiring stories from our patients

View Story

Speak with our Contact Center for assistance

Request an Appointment 800 8 2223 International Patients