Head & Neck Surgery
You’ll receive comprehensive advanced care for head and neck cancers at Swedish First Hill. In addition to experienced head and neck surgeons, our multidisciplinary team includes other physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners, physical therapists, speech pathologists and naturopathic physicians.
Together, our integrated approach to care, leading-edge imaging and diagnostic techniques, treatment options and a wide selection of quality support services means you’ll get the best care possible for your condition.
Our team provides advanced care for cancers of the:
- Lymph nodes of the neck
- Oral cavity
- Salivary glands
- Sinus-nasal cavities
- Skin of the head and neck region
- Thyroid and parathyroid glands
To determine the best approach to treatment, our radiologists use the latest technologies to diagnose and map cancers in the head and neck region. These include CT/PET, MRI and endoscopic examinations. We also provide convenient in-office ultrasound and on-site biopsy.
Because a lump in your neck or thyroid may be cancerous, our Neck Mass and Thyroid Nodule Biopsy Clinic eliminates the wait and anxiety for test results. In most cases, in just one visit, on one day and in one location, you can have:
- Ultrasound examination
- Biopsy (if needed)
- Review by a pathologist
- Surgical consultation
- Answers to your questions
- Next steps planned by your doctors
The only exception is a lump that may be lymphoma. A review by a pathologist will take a little more time.
We will work very closely with your personal doctor and they will share test results and discuss various treatments. Your results could show:
- Benign lump (not cancer) – If the lump is benign and is not causing any problems with breathing or swallowing, you may need no immediate treatment. The surgeon may suggest a follow-up ultrasound in six months. If there is any change, you may have another biopsy.
- Malignant lump (cancer) – If the lump is cancer, our cancer specialists will discuss your results and possible treatments, and work with you to determine the best treatment plan.
If you have cancer in your larynx, otherwise known as the “voicebox,” you may need a laryngectomy, a surgical procedure which removes the larynx. Depending on the stage of your cancer, you may be a good candidate for a partial laryngectomy, which entails removing only part of the larynx. If your cancer is advanced, your best option for treatment may be a total laryngectomy. We aim to preserve speech and swallow function so that you can learn to talk and eat again after your surgery.
- Minimally-invasive Transoral Laser Micro-Surgery
Surgeons use specialized endoscopic instruments through to pinpoint tumors. Using a variety of lasers, they carve out the cancer while preserving surrounding normal tissue. With this approach, patients recover faster, often swallowing and speaking on the first day after surgery.
- Minimally-invasive, Video-assisted Thyroidectomy (MIVAT)
Our head and neck surgeons utilize specialized high-definition endoscopes to access the thyroid and parathyroid gland through tiny incisions. Most patients are able to go home the day of surgery with minimal post-operative pain.
- Reconstructive Surgery
Surgically treating a patient with cancer of the tongue and jaw often means removing the entire tongue and jaw. Surgeons are able to reconstruct the tongue and jaw bone by transferring tissue from another part of the body (an autograft). Tissue may be taken from the fibula (leg bone), or the skin of the thigh or forearm to reconstruct both the jaw bone and tongue. Microvascular surgery allows us to restore functional and cosmetic loss by supplying blood and nutrients that reconnect to vessels in the neck. Microvascular reconstructive techniques have greatly improved the outcome of the cosmetic and functional (speaking, swallowing and breathing) of head and neck cancer patients. It has also allowed surgeons to operate on patients who previously were considered inoperable.
- Transoral Robotic Surgery
Cancers of the mouth and throat can also be accessed through the mouth using the DaVinci® robotic surgery system. This technique allows our surgeons to offer another option to otherwise inoperable cancers. Patients undergoing Trans Oral Surgery (TORS) for select mouth and throat cancers can return to normal swallow and breathing very rapidly, sometimes within 48 hours after surgery.