On Cancer: Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Head and Neck Service Celebrates 100 Years

By Media Staff  |  Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This past Sunday, the Fifth World Congress of the International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies (IFHNOS) was held in New York City. The event coincided with Memorial Sloan Kettering’s centennial anniversary as the first Head and Neck Cancer Surgery Service in the world. Jatin Shah, Chief of MSK’s Head and Neck Service, spoke at the event about the progress made in those 100 years. CNN’s Dan Lothian and MSK survivor Jessica Tar hosted the event.

The event kicked off four days of programming designed to help bring head and neck oncologists from all over the world together to share advancements and research in their field. View the slideshow below for highlights from the opening ceremony, held this past weekend; read more about the event in the Daily News; and watch complete videos of former President Bill Clinton’s opening address and actor and activist Michael Douglas’s keynote speech.

Shah Speech
Shah Speech Jatin Shah, Chief of the Head and Neck Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering, celebrated the centennial of the service — the first of its kind — at MSK and the progress made in those 100 years at the Fifth World Congress of the International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies (IFHNOS) and American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) Annual Meeting. Dr. Shah, a pioneer in the head and neck oncology field, has been treating patients at MSK for more than 40 years.
Parade of Nations and Band More than 3,000 head and neck surgeons came to New York City from around the globe for the IFHNOS World Congress. The Emerald Society Pipes and Drums from the New York City Police Department led the parade of the many nations taking part in the event.
Clinton Video Former President Bill Clinton officially opened the event as audience members, including MSK President Craig Thompson (far right) and Dr. Shah (far left), looked on.
Douglas Speech Actor and producer Michael Douglas credited MSK head and neck oncologists with saving his life. In his keynote speech, he also vowed his support for creating a World Head and Neck Cancer Day, to be held July 27 each year. Mr. Douglas said this was the “right move to share and advance knowledge to the world by organizing educational activities each year on this day,” and added, “I wholeheartedly support this proclamation.”
Thompson Speech Dr. Thompson spoke of the storied history of the MSK Head and Neck Surgery Service and how it continues to impact the rest of the world. “In the early decades of the 1900s, trainees came to Memorial Hospital to learn the latest techniques in head and neck surgery, returning to their own countries equipped with new skills and the ability to train others,” he said. “To this day, we are proud to host trainees from around the world to advance and disseminate new surgical approaches to treating head and neck cancers…. Many of our graduates are here today. We are incredibly proud of our graduates’ ability to be leaders of cancer centers and departments all over the world.”
Dan And Jessica Hosting CNN’s Dan Lothian and actress Jessica Tar hosted the opening ceremony. In addition to being masters of ceremonies, both Mr. Lothian and Ms. Tar shared their personal stories of battling head and neck cancer.
Catherine Zeta-Jones Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones watches her husband, Mr. Douglas, deliver remarks to the gathered surgeons with Dr. Shah. Earlier in the program, Ms. Zeta-Jones thanked the doctors at MSK “for saving my husband’s life…. I think this is probably the first time that I’ve had the chance to publicly thank Dr. Shah for his commitment not just to my husband but the many other people’s lives he’s saved.”


My father, treated at MSK for Stage 4 base of the tongue cancer in 2009. You saved his life, and I am forever thankful. However, due to complications from the intense radiation treatment his qualify of life is awful. He is living on a feeding tube. His qualify of life has decreased dramatically. Our life as a family has changed. I'm curious if there will be any sessions on life after head and neck cancer?

Dear Lisa,

Thanks so much for you question and for reaching out. You can see the full program from the conference here: http://www.ahns2014.org/program/

You may already be aware, but there are a number of support services that might help you, your dad, and your family. There’s some general information here: http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/adult/head-neck/survivorship. Our speech rehab specialists might also be able to help: http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/rehabilitation-services/speech-hearing-rehabilitation.

In terms of other types of support, to help you cope with stress and strain, we reached out to social worker Barbara Golby, who co-runs one of the support groups for head and neck patients, and she made some suggestions, including the following:

- Monthly in-person Head & Neck support group for emotional and practical support (the group is for patients, although occasionally family members have attended)
In Manhattan: http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/survivorship/upcoming-programs/head-neck-and-oral-moving-forward?dtstart=1408039200&dtend=1408044600
In Westchester: http://www.mskcc.org/events/support-group/head-and-neck-post-treatment-support-group

-Online men's group (mixed diagnosis) that meets quarterly

-Individual or family counseling with Barbara Golby via Resources for Life after Cancer, 646-888-4740 or RLAC@mskcc.org

-Family Therapy Clinic at the MSK Counseling Center, 646-888-0100

Thanks again for your comment. And we wish you and your family the very best.

Thank you for your quick response. Like many, I am praying that your amazing team can someday find a cure and in the meantime find comfort for everyone battling this disease.

Diagnosed with asymptomatic stage 4 papillary thyroid cancer in 2000, I was told to "...get my affairs in order and pray real hard!" I was extremely fortunate to have Dr. Jay O. Boyle as my surgeon. His skilled hands removed my thyroid, many infected lymph nodes, and much of the muscle in my left shoulder and upper chest. Dr. Boyle, coupled with Dr. Steven Larson and Iodine 131, saved my life! I have been cancer free for over five years! Kudos to dr. Boyle and the MSKCC Head and Neck Service! Miracle workers for sure!!!

Congratulations Sloan-Kettering on being #1 rated in Cancer Care - I am an 11 year Survivor, surgery performed August 2003, of Throat, Thyroid & Neck Cancer - Due to the complicated diagnosis of my condition and the immediate follow up surgery performed by, an outstanding Doctor and person, Dr RICHARD WONG, I am fine today. The intricate analysis:a) Invasive squamos cell carcinoma, lymph node right paratracheal b) Thyroid, right lobe and Isthmus, benign tissue c) 17 benign lymph nodes located in right neck area d)a benign parathyroid gland is identified e) Benign fibroadipose tissue. Sloan-Kettering deserves to be #1 and will always be #1 to me for their foresight and dedication to help and cure so many individuals thank have incurred these types of Cancers. Thank you, Ed Langan, August 4, 2014 .

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