Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancers start in the mouth, throat, voice box, nose or sinuses. These cancers include:

Many of these cancers can be cured, especially when they are found early.

Head and neck cancer can be quite complex. The experts at Penn State Cancer Institute are skilled in the latest treatments, technologies and clinical trials. Trust them to give you the best, multi-specialty care available.  

 

Treatment

At Penn State Cancer Institute, we diagnose and treat all types of head and neck cancers. Our multidisciplinary team is made up of surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, and pathologists. We guide you through every step of your care.

Our head and neck specialists may treat your cancer with complex or simple surgery, as needed. Your treatment may include radiation and/or chemotherapy.

Our surgeons take part in conferences with other cancer specialists. We discuss the specifics of your case and - putting all our skill and experience together - create a treatment plan just for you.

Our advanced surgery techniques include:

If needed, we can also improve your appearance after surgery with state-of-the-art facial reconstruction.

Care Team

You may see one or more of the following specialists for your cancer treatment.
Salah Almokadem, DO, MBChB Salah Almokadem, DO, MBChB Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Melissa Boltz, DO Melissa Boltz, DO Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Karen Choi, MD Karen Choi, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
David Goldenberg, MD, FACS David Goldenberg, MD, FACS Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Neerav Goyal, MD, MPH Neerav Goyal, MD, MPH Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Diane Hershock, MD, PhD Diane Hershock, MD, PhD Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Jessyka Lighthall, MD Jessyka Lighthall, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Heath Mackley, MD, FACRO Heath Mackley, MD, FACRO Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Marc Rovito, MD Marc Rovito, MD Hematology/Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Brian Saunders, MD Brian Saunders, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Leila Tchelebi, MD Leila Tchelebi, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile

Locations

Penn State Cancer Institute

Penn State Cancer Institute

400 University Dr
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-6585
Penn State Health Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery/Pediatric Surgery

Penn State Health Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery/Pediatric Surgery

200 Campus Dr
Suite 400 | Entrance 2
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-6822

Clinical Trials

Site for Randomized Phase II/III Trial of Radiotherapy with Concurrent MEDI4736 (Durvalumab) vs. Radiotherapy with Concurrent Cetuximab in Patients with Locoregionally Advanced Head and Neck Cancer with a Contraindication to Cisplatin

Groups, Classes and Support

Support groups offer an opportunity to connect with other patients, caregivers and families. Learn more about support groups offered at Penn State Cancer Institute.

Prevention and Screening

Many people who have been smoking and drinking heavily for a long time get head and neck cancer. Some get cancer because they have been exposed to harmful fumes and dust in the workplace. These cancers are generally considered preventable.

Making lifestyle changes can lower a person’s risk of getting a head and neck cancer, especially cancers of the mouth, nose and throat. You can:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Limit the time you spend in the sun, and use sunscreen.
  • Wear a protective face mask if you work amid toxic fumes and dust.
  • Protect yourself against HPV.

Some head and neck cancers, such as thyroid cancer, are not associated with any preventable risk factor.

Screening

There are no regular screening tests for head and neck cancer like there are for breast or colon cancer. Doctors do include an exam of the head and neck during your routine annual physical.

During your yearly dental evaluation, your dentist will look inside your mouth and throat for anything abnormal.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Each type of head and neck cancer has its own specific group of symptoms. Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other health conditions.

Symptoms

Here are some general symptoms and warning signs of head and neck cancer. See your doctor if you notice:

  • A lump or swelling in the neck
  • A sore in the mouth that won’t heal
  • A red or white patch in the mouth that doesn’t go away
  • Frequent nosebleeds, ongoing nasal congestion or chronic sinus infections that do not respond to treatment
  • Sore throat, hoarseness or voice change
  • Persistent pain in the neck, throat or ears
  • Blood when you spit
  • It’s hard to chew, swallow or move the jaws or tongue
  • Numbness in the tongue or other areas
  • Teeth are loose or dentures no longer fit

Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects cancer, he or she may use a physical exam, endoscopy, imaging tests and biopsy to identify and understand it.

  • Endoscopy uses a small flexible camera to examine the nose, mouth, throat and vocal cords.
  • Imaging tests may include CT scans and MRIs  to see if cancer has spread to surrounding areas, and PET scans to see if it has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Biopsy uses a sample of tissue to look for cancerous cells under a microscope.

Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancers start in the mouth, throat, voice box, nose or sinuses. These cancers include:

Many of these cancers can be cured, especially when they are found early.

Head and neck cancer can be quite complex. The experts at Penn State Cancer Institute are skilled in the latest treatments, technologies and clinical trials. Trust them to give you the best, multi-specialty care available.  

 

At Penn State Cancer Institute, we diagnose and treat all types of head and neck cancers. Our multidisciplinary team is made up of surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, and pathologists. We guide you through every step of your care.

Our head and neck specialists may treat your cancer with complex or simple surgery, as needed. Your treatment may include radiation and/or chemotherapy.

Our surgeons take part in conferences with other cancer specialists. We discuss the specifics of your case and - putting all our skill and experience together - create a treatment plan just for you.

Our advanced surgery techniques include:

If needed, we can also improve your appearance after surgery with state-of-the-art facial reconstruction.

You may see one or more of the following specialists for your cancer treatment.
Salah Almokadem, DO, MBChB Salah Almokadem, DO, MBChB Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Melissa Boltz, DO Melissa Boltz, DO Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Karen Choi, MD Karen Choi, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
David Goldenberg, MD, FACS David Goldenberg, MD, FACS Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Neerav Goyal, MD, MPH Neerav Goyal, MD, MPH Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Diane Hershock, MD, PhD Diane Hershock, MD, PhD Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Jessyka Lighthall, MD Jessyka Lighthall, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Heath Mackley, MD, FACRO Heath Mackley, MD, FACRO Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Marc Rovito, MD Marc Rovito, MD Hematology/Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Brian Saunders, MD Brian Saunders, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Leila Tchelebi, MD Leila Tchelebi, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Penn State Cancer Institute

Penn State Cancer Institute

400 University Dr
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-6585
Penn State Health Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery/Pediatric Surgery

Penn State Health Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery/Pediatric Surgery

200 Campus Dr
Suite 400 | Entrance 2
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-6822
Site for Randomized Phase II/III Trial of Radiotherapy with Concurrent MEDI4736 (Durvalumab) vs. Radiotherapy with Concurrent Cetuximab in Patients with Locoregionally Advanced Head and Neck Cancer with a Contraindication to Cisplatin
Support groups offer an opportunity to connect with other patients, caregivers and families. Learn more about support groups offered at Penn State Cancer Institute.

Many people who have been smoking and drinking heavily for a long time get head and neck cancer. Some get cancer because they have been exposed to harmful fumes and dust in the workplace. These cancers are generally considered preventable.

Making lifestyle changes can lower a person’s risk of getting a head and neck cancer, especially cancers of the mouth, nose and throat. You can:

  • Quit smoking.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Limit the time you spend in the sun, and use sunscreen.
  • Wear a protective face mask if you work amid toxic fumes and dust.
  • Protect yourself against HPV.

Some head and neck cancers, such as thyroid cancer, are not associated with any preventable risk factor.

Screening

There are no regular screening tests for head and neck cancer like there are for breast or colon cancer. Doctors do include an exam of the head and neck during your routine annual physical.

During your yearly dental evaluation, your dentist will look inside your mouth and throat for anything abnormal.

Each type of head and neck cancer has its own specific group of symptoms. Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other health conditions.

Symptoms

Here are some general symptoms and warning signs of head and neck cancer. See your doctor if you notice:

  • A lump or swelling in the neck
  • A sore in the mouth that won’t heal
  • A red or white patch in the mouth that doesn’t go away
  • Frequent nosebleeds, ongoing nasal congestion or chronic sinus infections that do not respond to treatment
  • Sore throat, hoarseness or voice change
  • Persistent pain in the neck, throat or ears
  • Blood when you spit
  • It’s hard to chew, swallow or move the jaws or tongue
  • Numbness in the tongue or other areas
  • Teeth are loose or dentures no longer fit

Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects cancer, he or she may use a physical exam, endoscopy, imaging tests and biopsy to identify and understand it.

  • Endoscopy uses a small flexible camera to examine the nose, mouth, throat and vocal cords.
  • Imaging tests may include CT scans and MRIs  to see if cancer has spread to surrounding areas, and PET scans to see if it has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Biopsy uses a sample of tissue to look for cancerous cells under a microscope.