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If doctors have already treated your head and neck cancer, you hope it won’t spread or return. But if your cancer does spread or return, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center offers a special new resource.

Our Recurrent/Metastatic Head and Neck Cancer Clinic focuses on patients whose disease has returned (recurrent) or spread (metastatic). Head and neck cancers may recur within the head and neck and/or spread to other organs like the lungs and liver. When that happens, you need an updated diagnosis and a treatment plan. Our team provides compassionate, personalized care to help you meet the physical, emotional, and social challenges of your diagnosis. The clinic is here for you even if you have had prior treatments for recurrent/metastatic head and neck cancer.

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Streamline Your Care

Located at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside, our clinic offers expedited, coordinated appointments. Our team will review your records and determine if you need to see more than one type of doctor . If so, you will see all doctors on the same day.

Depending on your treatment plan, you may be able to receive care at a UPMC Hillman Cancer Center location close to your home. That means you may not have to travel to Shadyside each time you need to see a doctor.

Some of the specialists you may see through the Clinic include experts in:

  • Head and neck surgery
  • Skull base surgery
  • Medical oncology
  • Radiation oncology
  • Plastic surgery
  • Pathology
  • Radiology
  • Palliative care
  • Nursing
  • Speech-language pathology
  • Nutrition

Recurrent/Metastatic Disease Presents Challenges

Head and neck cancer can affect the body parts that make you feel like you. That includes your face, your voice, and your ability to eat and socialize comfortably. You may need extra support to deal with the physical and emotional challenge of the disease.

When head and neck cancer returns or spreads, it can be unpredictable. It can return in the same place or spread to nearby lymph nodes in the neck. The cancer can also travel to the lungs, liver, or bones.

This complexity means that you need specialized expertise for the best outcomes.

UPMC Provides World-Class Care

The clinic provides access to world-class care and novel treatments delivered by experts in the field. These include:

  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (a focused radiation technique)
  • Clinical trials

Many patients with recurrent and/or metastatic head and neck cancer will need systemic therapy, which includes chemotherapy, targeted therapy (focused against mutations or molecular pathways in your tumor), and immunotherapy. Immunotherapy works by trying to get your own immune system to attack the cancer. Our head and neck cancer team includes leaders in the field of immunotherapy. Research done by this team has led to the development of clinical trials for patients, some of which are only available at Hillman. Systemic therapy means the treatment will target the entire body, not just where the cancer is. By treating your whole body, your team hopes to stop the cancer from growing and spreading even more.

Treatment Tailored to You

In choosing how to treat your cancer, your team will consider your unique medical needs. Important questions include:

  • What therapies did you have previously?
  • Do you have other medical conditions that might affect your treatment?
  • How much does the cancer affect what you can do on a daily basis?
  • Does your cancer have specific genetic mutations?

The Recurrent/Metastatic Head and Neck Cancer Clinic at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center helps people address the challenges of this disease with compassionate, state-of-the-art, personalized care. Our doctors and scientists work together to develop new and better treatments for head and neck cancers in order to help patients in the region and beyond.

Sources

Dr. Michael T. Milano. Treatment of locally recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Up to Date. Link

National Cancer Institute. Head and Neck Cancers. National Institutes of Health. Link

Head and Neck Cancers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Link

About UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center provides world-class cancer care, from diagnosis to treatment, to help you in your cancer battle. We are the only comprehensive cancer center in our region, as designated by the National Cancer Institute. We have more than 70 locations throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and Maryland, with more than 200 oncologists. Our internationally renowned research team is striving to find new advances in prevention, detection, and treatment.