World-class care, personalized for you
Rush's nationally recognized head and neck cancer team is committed to treating the whole person — not just the cancer.
Because head and neck cancers are rare, treating them requires specialized expertise. At Rush, you will receive the highest quality of care from a multidisciplinary team of ENT surgeons, endocrinologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons, and other experts.
Our team understands that head and neck cancers and treatments can have a profound effect on your quality of life. We strive to effectively treat the tumor while, as much as possible, preserving your appearance, and your ability to breathe, speak and swallow. Our extensive experience and collaborative relationships enable us to consider all available options — from transoral robotic surgery (TORS) to targeted radiation and drug therapies to advanced reconstructive techniques — and customize a tightly coordinated treatment plan for you.
We also offer state-of-the-art treatment for noncancerous head and neck tumors, including lipomas and thyroid tumors.
Second opinion services
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with head and neck cancer and would like a second opinion to confirm your diagnosis and fully explore potential treatment options, we are happy to meet with you.
Learn more about how to make a second opinion appointment at Rush.
Excellence in Head and Neck Cancer Care
Team care, better outcomes
In Rush's weekly head and neck tumor conference, a team of experts work together to review cases and determine personalized treatment plans for each patient. Research has shown that this approach has a powerful impact on how the tumors are diagnosed and treated, to the benefit of patients.
Less invasive treatments
Head and neck surgeons at Rush use minimally invasive procedures — such as transoral robotic surgery (TORS), sentinel lymph node biopsy and photoimmunotherapy (PIT) — whenever possible to optimize outcomes, promote quicker recovery and reduce scarring.
Rush also offers targeted radiation therapy and targeted therapy drugs, which enable tumors to be treated with less damage to healthy tissue and fewer side effects.
And because our doctors are active researchers, our patients have early access to many new treatments through clinical trials. See a list of open clinical trials for head and neck cancer.
Enhanced recovery after surgery
The Rush Head and Neck Cancer Program uses an enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocol to optimize our patients' experience before, during and after surgery — and to empower patients to be fully engaged in the recovery process.
ERAS is a collaborative effort between head and neck surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and allied health professionals — all coming together with the patient at the center. The goals of this collaboration include more comprehensive pre-surgery planning and education; faster recovery in the hospital; shorter length of stay; improved recovery after discharge; decreased use of opioids; and better overall pain control.
For instance, before Rush started ERAS, 90 percent of our head and neck cancer patients left the hospital on narcotic medications; since we started using ERAS, only 20 percent of patients are leaving the hospital on narcotics. At the same time, patients are reporting less pain.
Each step of the ERAS protocol is tailored to the patient's needs and designed to help achieve the best possible outcome.
The head and neck cancer program is partnering with Tempus, a biotechnology company, to gain a better understanding of the genetics of cancerous tumors and which treatment approaches specific tumors will respond to.
As part of the collaboration, our doctors send blood and tumor tissue samples to Tempus for genetic analysis, which enables doctors to see which gene variations a patient has that may affect cancer development. Tempus can then determine which drugs similar patients have been treated with, and how similar patients have responded, as well as recommend current clinical trials that are accepting new patients.
This analysis is especially useful for patients who have run out of treatment options, and those with rare cancers, such as skull base tumors and salivary gland cancers.
Access to cancer resources and support
Rush is committed to helping patients and their families cope with the psychological, emotional and spiritual effects of cancer. Learn more about the many support services available to patients with head and neck cancer, and their families, through the Rush University Cancer Center.