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Head and Neck Cancer

Grant AchatzA combined treatment approach of chemotherapy and radiation therapy saved chef Grant Achatz's tongue. »Learn more

The best treatment for head and neck cancers is guided by a team of specialists. At the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, our expert cancer team includes surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, physical therapists, speech/swallowing therapists and other experts who provide compassionate, patient-centered care.

Our multidisciplinary head and neck cancer team is nationally recognized for outstanding treatment outcomes. Just as important, patients and their families recognize us for our extraordinary dedication to helping patients maintain the best possible quality of life, including speech and swallowing functions, during and after treatment.

Head and neck cancers can affect the:

  • Mouth (oral cavity)
    • Lips
    • Front two-thirds of the tongue
    • Gums
    • Lining of the cheeks
    • Floor of the mouth (under the tongue)
    • Bony top of the mouth (hard palate)
  • Throat (pharynx)
    • Upper part of the throat, behind the nose (nasopharynx)
    • Middle part of the throat, including the back of the mouth, or soft palate, the base of the tongue and the tonsils (oropharynx)
    • Lower part of the throat (hypopharynx)
  • Voice box, vocal cords and epiglottis (larynx)
  • Nasal cavity, the hollow space inside the nose
  • Paranasal sinuses, the hollow spaces in the bones of the head surrounding the nose
  • Salivary gland
  • Thyroid gland
  • Parathyroid gland(s)
  • Skull base
  • Skin of the head and neck

New medical advances, such as robotic surgery and advanced immunotherapies, mean there are more treatment options for patients facing this challenging disease. Many patients are able to recover from their cancer and return to their normal lives, thanks to a combination of expertise, innovation and support.