​Overview of the Head and Neck Cancer Surgery Program

The Head and Neck Cancer Surgery Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides highly specialized tertiary care services inclu​ding Head and Neck Surgery and Microvascular reconstruction.

Our goal is to develop an optimal treatment plan for each patient that will help to preserve long-term quality of life. 

Treatment is complemented by multiple services that help support quality of life. 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.

Our program is led by a team of surgeons who work closely with Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s oncologists in the Oncology Institute. 

Each of our patients receive comprehensive, individualized treatment plans based on sound scientific evidence. Our multidisciplinary tumor board discusses each individual case to determine the best combination of treatments patients.

The Head and Neck Cancer Surgery program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi uses minimally invasive techniques such as trans-oral robotic surgery for oropharyngeal and laryngeal cancers. This allows 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.​

What We Treat​

Head and neck cancer include cancers of the following areas:

  • Thyroid and Parathyroid cancers (Endocrine Cancer program)
  • Oral cavity cancers
  • Salivary gland cancers
  • Sinuses
  • Nasal cavity (nasal cancers)
  • Tonsils 
  • Throat (pharynx)
  • Larynx (voice box) laryngeal cancers 
  • Ears
  • Lymph nodes in the upper part of the neck
  • Oral and oropharyngeal cancer
    Oral and oropharyngeal cancer is cancer of the oropharynx, which is the middle part of your throat (pharynx). Symptoms include a sore throat that doesn’t go away; a lump in the throat, mouth or neck; coughing up blood; white patch in the mouth and other symptoms. Treatments may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and targeted drug therapy.
  • Head and neck cancer
    Head and neck cancer symptoms are often mild and can mimic less serious conditions such as a cold or sore throat. These symptoms include:
    • A mouth or tongue sore that does not heal​
    • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth
    • A persistent sore throat​
    • Swelling in the jaw, neck, or side of the face.
    • Frequent sinus infections that do not respond to antibiotics
    • Neck pain that won't go away
    • Frequent headaches
    • Pain in the upper teeth
    • Bleeding through the nose or in the mouth, or blood in the saliva
    • Trouble swallowing
    • Persistent earaches
    • Trouble breathing or speaking​

Diagnosis & Treatment

Early detection is key to successful treatment of head and neck cancers. Diagnostic tests such as the below may be ordered:

  • A physical exam to check the oral and nasal cavities, neck, throat, and tongue.
  • Office endoscopy
  • Laboratory tests
  • Head and neck CT scans, MRIs, or PET scans 
  • Biopsy
  • Your doctor will determine which tests will best evaluate your symptoms. 

    The three main courses of treatment for head and neck cancers are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. 

    Some patients may receive all three treatments. 

    Surgeons may remove the tumor and a margin of surrounding healthy tissue. Lymph nodes in the neck may also be removed if it is suspected that the cancer has spread.

    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. 

    Prevention of head and neck cancers

    Tobacco use is the most common cause of head and neck cancers. To reduce your risk, quit using all forms of tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, snuff, and chewing smokeless tobacco). 

    Oral use of betel nut and erica nut should also be avoided to reduce the risk. Furthermore, human papilloma virus has been associated with certain head and neck cancers contracted by unsafe sexual practices. 

    Seeing your doctor at the first sign of symptoms can also prevent cancers from progressing.

    Head and Neck Cancer Surgery Program Caregivers

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

    • Surgeons
    • Radiologists
    • Speech Therapists
    • Oncologists

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