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Head and Neck Cancer Treatment at the University of Colorado Cancer Center

If you or a loved one has ever received a diagnosis of head or neck cancer, you know that the first few moments after hearing the news can feel like ages. At the University of Colorado Cancer Center, you will have an entire team of specialists in your corner.

The region's only NCI-designated cancer center

As the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Rocky Mountain region (and one of only 40 in the United States), we pull from an internationally-recognized pool of physicians, researchers and specialists to ensure you’re backed by the latest advancements in your fight against cancer.

The Head and Neck Department specializes in treating cancers that begin in the oral cavity, the salivary glands, the paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity, the pharynx or the larynx. We also treat cancer that appear in the lymph nodes of the upper neck. And we lend our expertise to advanced thyroid cancer patients when the standard course of treatment is not producing results.

At the CU Cancer Center, we’re dedicated to finding a cure for cancer. In fact, our 5-year survival rate for many kinds of cancer is up to 30% higher than state, regional and national averages.

To begin your journey with a dedicated team of head and neck cancer experts, call us at (720) 848-0300.

Comprehensive Care

If you do call, you’ll have the same caring team of doctors and support professionals with you throughout your journey, from your initial appointment and evaluation to treatment and aftercare.

  • Your team is made up of experts from many fields: surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, nurses, social workers, geneticists and counselors. Most of those you’ll meet specialize specifically in head and neck cancer treatment, support and rehabilitation. But they regularly consult with other cancer specialists as they review your test results, your progress and discuss the next best step in your care with you.
  • Your medical team meets weekly at our Head and Neck Tumor Board Conference. That’s where the specialists together evaluate your case, plan and deliver treatment, manage side effects and arrange aftercare support.
  • All your records, consultations, test results and provider notes about you and your treatment are in an electronic medical record, available to all the doctors within the University of Colorado Hospital system who may be called in from all our specialties to help treat you and your condition.
  • You also have access to complementary and alternative medicine through our doctor-led Center for Integrative Medicine.
  • We treat the whole person. Cancer treatment at UCH is designed to support you and educate you and your entire support network.

Advanced Research & Treatment

As the regional leader in cancer research, treatment and support, we offer specialized care not available anywhere else in Colorado. You get:

  • World-renowned experts in cancer diagnosis and staging, which are the first steps for getting proper cancer care.
  • The most comprehensive and advanced radiation options in the Rocky Mountain region for patients with head and neck cancer. This includes highly individualized, 3D computerized treatment using IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy). It delivers the highest treatment dose to tumors while safely sparing normal tissue. We also specialize in re-irradiation, if needed, and are experts in stereotactic radiation, which uses a highly focused beam directed toward a small, localized tumor target.
  • The services of the region’s only multidisciplinary thyroid cancer clinic. Patients with advanced and rare thyroid cancers are evaluated jointly by our medical oncologists and endocrinologists, thyroid cancer surgeons and radiation oncologists to create a specialized care plan. For these patients, we offer clinical research studies of new chemotherapy and radiation treatments in addition to conventional therapies.
  • Access to many new treatments, including the latest drugs and vaccines for treating head and neck tumors, through our involvement in clinical trials.

In the News

John Song, MD

In a recent story and video, surgical oncologist John Song, MD and one of his patients discuss how the Da Vinci Surgical System now in use at University of Colorado Hospital allows precision treatment of head and neck cancers.


Diagnostic Imaging

Head and Neck Cancer at a Glance

  • An estimated 39,000 men and women in this country develop head and neck cancer annually, and 45,000 more will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
  • Head and neck cancers account for approximately 6% of all malignancies in the United States.
  • Caucasians currently have the highest incidence rates of head and neck cancers, although mortality is still highest among African Americans.
  • About 2,000 people in the United States develop cancer of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinus each year. These cancers also occur much more often in certain areas of the world, most notably in Japan and South Africa.
  • The rate of new cases of oral cancer has been dropping over the past 30 years, and the death rate from oral cancers has been decreasing since the late 1970s. This may be tied to the drop in rates of tobacco use.

Source: American Cancer Society

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