Head and Neck Cancer Surgery

Head and neck cancer doctor performing surgery

In most cases, surgery is the primary form of treatment for head and neck cancer. Using highly advanced, minimally invasive surgical techniques, surgeons can remove as many cancerous cells as possible, often while preserving the appearance and physical and sensory function of nearby structures. Statistically speaking, patients who are treated with minimally invasive surgery tend to experience fewer complications and recover more quickly than patients who undergo traditional open surgery.

Common types of minimally invasive head and neck cancer surgery include:

  • Endoscopic laser surgery – After inserting a thin, lighted tube (endoscope) through a patient’s mouth and into the throat, a surgeon can remove tumors in the patient’s throat (pharynx) or voice box (larynx) with a special laser attached to the endoscope.
  • Minimally invasive video-assisted thyroidectomy (MIVAT) – Using an endoscope with a tiny video camera attached, a surgeon can remove thyroid tumors through small incisions.
  • Robotic-assisted surgery – With the aid of small robotic arms placed in a patient’s mouth, a surgeon can remove tumors of the tongue and tonsils without making large incisions or disturbing the jaw bone. An example of this type of surgery is transoral robotic surgery
  • Neck dissection – To determine whether cancer has spread beyond the site of origin, a surgeon can remove lymph nodes in the neck for pathological analysis.
  • Pharyngectomy - A procedure that involves removing the portion of the throat where cancerous cells have developed.
  • Tracheal resection - This procedure would depend on what area the tumor appears on the trachea.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, our surgeons are skilled in performing the latest and most effective techniques for addressing head and neck cancer. Our Reconstructive Oncology Program also offers the latest techniques for reconstruction surgery. Each patient’s treatment plan is developed by a collaborative, multispecialty team, and we offer all aspects of diagnosis, treatment and support in a single, convenient location. We also have a robust portfolio of clinical trials with active protocols for many types of head and neck cancer. Through these important studies, our patients can be among the first to benefit from promising new treatments, including advanced surgical techniques. Our dedicated research team continues to evaluate promising new treatment options, and every day we are learning more, improving outcomes and enhancing quality of life for our patients.

If you’d like to learn more about head and neck cancer surgery, the experts at Moffitt can explain your treatment options and help you make informed choices. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.