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Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer includes cancers of the mouth, jaw and facial bones, nose, sinuses, eye socket, salivary glands, throat, skin and lymph nodes in the neck. This type of cancer often begins in the moist tissues of the mouth, nose or throat. With proper evaluation and treatment by an experienced team, head and neck cancer is often curable.

At the Legacy Cancer Institute we offer a comprehensive, specialized and multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment and rehabilitation. Your Legacy care team may include: head and neck surgeons and specialists, neurosurgeons, ophthalmologists, maxillofacial prosthodontists, general dentists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists, plus experts/specialists in recovery and rehabilitation.

Award-winning care

Legacy ranks among the nation's top cancer programs and has received multiple quality awards including the 2010 Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons' Commission (ACS) on Cancer. The ACS ranks Legacy's cancer program as one of the best in the nation.

Treatments

Comprehensive treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy and often involves carefully planned combinations of these modes of treatment. At Legacy we use advanced technologies to treat head and neck cancers, including surgical and radiation techniques that very precisely target tumors.

Surgery, including robotic surgery to remove cancers from the mouth and throat.

At Legacy we have one of the first surgeons on the west coast to use the technologically innovative da Vinci® robot surgical system for head and neck cancer. This surgical system has been successful in thousands of surgeries worldwide. Additionally, we perform the most da Vinci® surgeries in Oregon and SW Washington for tumors throughout the body, making Legacy a leader in the robotic field. Robotic surgery of the mouth and throat is performed through the open mouth, making it far less invasive than traditional surgery. For most patients this means less pain and shorter recovery times.

Patients requiring non-robotic head and neck surgery may also require microvascular reconstruction. Legacy physicians were the first in Oregon to provide state of the art microvascular free tissue transfer for head and neck reconstruction.  Using a multidisciplinary approach, combined with the most contemporary technological advances, our surgeons can provide an immediate return to function, with optimal esthetics, in a single operation.

Radiation therapy, including IMRT and shaped beam surgery

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
IMRT uses highly sophisticated computer software programs that use a variety of data--including CT and MRI scans--to accurately match the anatomy of the patient and the shape of the tumor to the shape of each beam.

Novalis® Shaped Beam Surgery
This technology (also called stereotactic radiosurgery) provides the most precise targeting of radiation currently available, with consistent accuracy to about 1/80 of an inch.

Chemotherapy

Physician case review

Our multidisciplinary cancer care conferences review complex cases to provide an expert "second opinion" on diagnosis, pre-treatment evaluation, staging, treatment strategy and rehabilitation. The team includes medical oncologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, surgeons, nurses, research coordinators and other cancer care staff.

You're not alone

At the Legacy Cancer Institute we offer services to support every aspect of your treatment including your physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being. We offer a wide range of support services to help you and your family. If you need help just ask us, and we'll help you find the support you need.

Nurse navigators

Our personalized support services begin with our nurse navigators. They will help you throughout your treatment, from knowing what to expect to finding the right support services and helping you manage symptoms and treatment side effects.

  • Contact a nurse navigator

Support services

In addition, the following support services are also available:

  • Integrative care through our Cancer Healing Center
  • Cancer rehabilitation
  • Lymphedema management

Our providers


  • Eric J. Dierks, M.D., DMD, FACS, board-certified head and neck surgeon and one of the first surgeons on the west coast to use the surgical robot to remove cancer from the mouth and throat
  • Phil Anderson, M.D., board-certified head and neck surgeon, with special interest in cancer
  • Todd Berinstein, M.D., FACS, board-certified head and neck surgeon, with special interest in cancer