Head and Neck Cancer Treatments

Head and neck cancer requires a dedicated team that specializes in a range of treatments. Each head and neck cancer is unique and often complex, affecting very sensitive parts of the body. Often, there are multiple possible treatment paths.

At Michigan Medicine, we don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach. We interpret all the evidence and analyze all the options to find the best way forward. We tailor our recommendations to your needs, to find the approach that provides effective treatment while maintaining your quality of life. Our cure rates surpass those found at many centers with smaller volumes.

Renowned Head and Neck Cancer Treatment at Michigan Medicine

Head and neck cancers affect critical and often sensitive areas of the body, including the mouth, throat, voice box, sinuses, and salivary glands. We find options that offer the best chance for a cure while maximizing your function, including speech and swallowing, after treatment.

You can feel confident knowing your care comes from top doctors. Our ear, nose, and throat (ENT) program is consistently ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report. Michigan Medicine also offers a comprehensive cancer center, as determined by the National Cancer Institute. This designation recognizes the Rogel Cancer Center’s leadership in treatment, research, and education.

Head and Neck Cancer Treatments We Offer

We consider you an essential part of the treatment team. We listen to you and make sure treatments suit your individual needs.

Some head and neck cancers will benefit most from surgery, while others may be better treated with radiation and chemotherapy. Treatments will vary based on the stage and type of cancer, as well as your health, and may include:

Robotic Head and Neck Surgery

We often use robotic-assisted surgery when treating head and neck cancers, particularly those in the larynx, throat, and tonsils. We use tiny instruments and high-definition imaging during these operations, which are known as transoral robotic surgery (TORS).

Robotic surgery allows us to see and reach areas that are otherwise hard to access. It also provides additional benefits, including:

  • Fewer incisions and less invasive surgery
  • Reduced recovery time
  • Less need for reconstructive surgery

Reconstructive Surgery

Reconstructive surgery is an important part of some treatment plans and can restore appearance and function.

We can use skin, fat, muscle, or bone from another part of the body to rebuild the tongue, jaw, or other areas of the head and neck that were removed during cancer surgery. We use microvascular surgical techniques to reattach blood vessels and restore circulation. This technique allows us to attach blood vessels together with the aid of a microscope.

Sophisticated 3D computer modeling helps us plan out reconstructive surgery. Our surgeons work with an engineer to carefully outline each step of the surgery and personalize it for your individual needs.

Head and Neck Cancer Clinical Trials

We develop and conduct our own unique clinical trials. Through trials, we can offer therapies you won’t find at other hospitals. We also take part in nationwide trials.

We’ll talk to you about available clinical trials and ask if you’re interested in participating. Clinical trials may focus on new ways of treating head and neck cancers, including:

  • Different doses of radiation and chemotherapy
  • New immunotherapy drugs that target cancer cells

Voice and Swallowing Therapy

You may need support from speech therapists, who are specially trained to care for the unique needs of people with head and neck cancer. They are a crucial part of our care team. Speech therapists help people who have difficulty swallowing, talking, and eating because of cancer or treatment. Speech therapists can:

  • Perform assessments before and after treatment 
  • Set short- and long-term expectations and goals
  • Offer exercises to improve function
  • Provide strategies for chewing and swallowing
  • Recommend special diets or feeding tubes

Make an Appointment

To schedule an evaluation for head and neck cancer, please call us at 734-936-8051. You may also call us to schedule a virtual telehealth appointment.