COMPREHENSIVE CARE OF HEAD AND NECK CANCER
First of all, cancers of the mouth and throat are treatable. In fact, for the vast majority of patients, the chances for successful treatment are greater than 85%. Physicians at the Rontal Clinic develop treatment techniques, direct a coordinated effort of specialists, and organize hospital care – all with the dual aims of curing disease and reducing the sometimes-difficult side effects of treatment.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF HEAD AND NECK CANCER
We think of Head and Neck cancers differently based on their location: voice box (larynx), tonsil/tongue base (oropharynx) and paranasal sinuses, skull base, nose, neck and oral cavity. This distinction is increasingly significant since oropharynx cancers now very often found to result from the HPV virus. Cancers that are “HPV positive” have a much better prognosis.
THE TRANS-DISCIPLINARY APPROACH
Treatment recommendations are best made by a broad, multi- disciplinary team, called a Tumor Board. The physicians of the Rontal Clinic participate in Tumor Boards at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. In particular, Dr. Matthew Rontal is a director of this group. Participating specialists include not only the many doctors who collaborate in this care, but also a spectrum of nursing, speech, and language, nutritional, and physical therapy providers.
In addition, patients may actually be seen and evaluated in this unique, collaborative setting. Seeing the patient together, specialists more quickly develop a common understanding of the patient, the disease, and the best multidisciplinary plan for therapy. For the patient, it represents a single visit at which all key providers are present together.
Over several years, these Tumor Boards have become a place for continued discussion and presentation of fresh ideas – all with the patient’s welfare at the center of attention. Over time, practitioners have not only become aware of each other’s goals and concerns but have even begun to learn and participate in each other’s fields. It is truly a transdisciplinary approach.
TREATMENT: REDUCING SIDE EFFECTS, IMPROVING OUTCOMES
Head and Neck cancers are successfully treated in over 85% of cases. The choice of treatment is one that is made together, in close consultation between the patient and physicians. Based on the location and size of the primary lesion, and the presence of metastatic disease, treatment options are considered.
Surgery and/or radiation are the mainstays of treatment. Chemotherapy is often used as an adjunct to radiation and is not as toxic as that used in other sorts of cancers.
The ability to reconstruct and rehabilitate defects resulting from larger cancers is a central focus of our practice. We offer cutting edge, complex head and neck and craniofacial reconstruction; but we do so with a focus on reducing side effects of surgery and guiding patients through the surgical course with care and compassion. Dr. Rontal utilizes the broadest possible range of reconstructive options, including advanced, computer generated prosthetic materials where indicated and believes firmly in the process of compassionately helping patients through the course of surgery and recovery.
Reconstructive options are considered together with the patient and family. The process of surgery and the expected course of recovery and inherent risks are explained clearly.
Depending on the extent of disease, treatment may be simple or relatively complex. The course is sometimes long and sometimes difficult. However, as members of a broad team, each of whom establishes a relationship with the patient from our first introduction, we help patients through this course. It is our goal that patients not only feel they are getting the best of care but that they truly feel cared for.