Head & Neck Cancers


More than 3,500 people with cancer of the head and neck are diagnosed and treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering every year. The care of these patients involves extraordinary multidisciplinary collaboration, since many of them require a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Our team of more than 45 specialists focuses exclusively on the treatment of head and neck cancers, including malignancies of the oral cavity, larynx, pharynx, nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses, and thyroid and parathyroid.

We meet weekly to tailor a personalized, comprehensive care plan for each patient, taking into account the spectrum of care needs and a range of potential treatment options.

While improving survival is our primary goal, we also take into account such considerations as quality of life and appearance and preservation of functions such as speech, swallowing, taste, and hearing.

Our expertise in the care of head and neck cancers includes:

Staging: Our physicians helped to develop and update the TNM (tumor, node, metastasis) staging system now used by most medical facilities around the globe.

Minimally invasive and reconstructive surgery: Our surgeons developed a microsurgery technique that uses miniaturized surgical instruments and a microscope to connect blood vessels in the fibula to blood vessels in the neck

Clinical trials and research to identify therapeutic targets: Many of our patients have access to investigational therapies through clinical studies conducted at our institution. Among other initiatives, we are researching genes that play a role in head and neck cancers so that we can develop targeted therapies.

Targeted radiation therapy: Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) provide additional precision and enhanced effectiveness for our patients.

Enhancing recovery and quality of life: Our experienced physical and occupational therapists are highly versed in helping patients with speech and swallowing problems and in enhancing quality of life.