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Head & Neck (Throat) Cancer

There are more than more than 28 million cancer survivors worldwide – but, for patients with head and neck cancer, it’s about more than surviving. Head and neck cancer that disfigures or impedes speaking and eating can be nothing short of devastating. Here at Ochsner, we offer new treatment options that focus on preserving function and appearance without compromising the chances for a cure.

The Ochsner Edge

More than 55,000 Americans develop head and neck cancer every year. While the rates for many of these cancers are declining, oropharyngeal cancer, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) continues to rise. The Head and Neck Oncology team at Ochsner has a depth of expertise and experience second to none in the region.

The Ochsner team offers the newesttreatment options, including minimally invasive surgical approaches such as transoral robotic surgery, transoral laser surgery and endoscopic sinus/skull base surgery. We also offer complex head and neck reconstruction including microvascular free tissue transfer.

Putting the Team Approach to Work For Our Patients

The Tom and Gayle Benson Cancer Center is home to area's only unified head and neck team under one roof. Patients come from all over the region and beyond to be evaluated by a team that includes fellowship-trained head and neck surgical oncologists/reconstructive microsurgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, a psychosocial oncologist, speech and language pathologists, a nutritionist and a nurse coordinator, among others. We don’t just talk about the multi-disciplinary approach, we live it. Learn more about our team approach

Specialty Surgical Care

Ochsner head and neck surgical oncologists (otolaryngologists/ENT surgeons) provide specialty care for patients with cancerous and noncancerous tumors in the head and neck including the thyroid and parathyroid glands. We evaluate and treat lumps in the neck or thyroid and cancers of the upper airway including the voice box. Successful treatment for head and neck cancer often involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or various combinations of the three. In addition to tumor removal, the goals of successful treatment include restoration of swallowing, eating, speaking and cosmetic/functional reconstruction when indicated. Patients from out-of-town can choose to have their surgery at Ochsner Medical Center and receive their follow-up care closer to home.


More About Head and Neck Cancer

Most Commonly Treated Head and Neck Disorders

The most common head and neck disorders that we are called upon to treat are:

  • Tumors of the Upper Aerodigestive Tract -- mouth, tongue, tonsil, larynx ad pharynx
  • Benign and Malignant Salivary Gland Tumors
  • Pharyngeal and Upper Airway Malignancies
  • Cervical Tumors (Benign/Malignant)
  • Thyroid Nodules/Thyroid Cancer
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Laser Surgery of the Larynx and Upper Airway
  • Hoarseness
  • Dysphasia
  • Endoscopic Laser Surgery
  • Anterior/Lateral Base of Skull Malignancies
  • Cutaneous Malignancies
  • Advanced skin cancers -- melanoma and squamos cell carcinoma

Cancers of the Larynx and Pharynx

For cancers of the larynx and pharynx, Ochsner’s head-and-neck surgeons are adept at removing the tumor while sparing as much normal tissue and function of the voice box as possible. Our doctors work in conjunction with plastic and reconstructive surgeons when working in the oral cavity and on the tongue to produce the most-attractive cosmetic result possible and to preserve speech and swallowing.

Tumors of the Head

For tumors of the head, our surgeons are specially trained in extensive skull base procedures and frequently work in collaboration with members of the neurosurgery department. Following certain operations, voice rehabilitation or facial nerve rehabilitation can help patient return to normal, daily living. Ochsner also offers dental implants, facial prostheses, oral reconstruction and general rehabilitation.

Psychosocial Support

Care for the patient with head and neck cancer does not stop with treatment of the tumor itself. Depression and distress are commonly encountered in patients with these types of cancers and failure to identify and address these issues early one has been shown to contribute to reduced survival rates. At Ochsner, our team includes a psychosocial oncologist trained to recognize and treat the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression in the early stage.

Clinical Trials

The Ochsner Head and Neck Oncology Team has a renewed focus on clinic trials. We are a participating institution in the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, as well as the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology. View clinical trials.

Patient Housing Options

Patients may stay at Ochsner’s Brent House Hotel, a full-service hotel with guest rooms and suites adjacent to Ochsner Medical Center. Call toll free 1-800-535-3986 or go to for more information.

Patients and a caregiver may also stay at the American Cancer Society’s Patrick F. Taylor Hope Lodge. This program helps patients cope with the cancer treatment process and provides a supportive environment for patients. Ochsner can help coordinate housing arrangements if needed and additional information is available by calling 504-219-2200.

Qualified patients and family members can obtain free lodging at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge.