Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) has been recognized as the number one center for ear, nose, and throat care by U.S. News & World Report in its annual Best Hospitals listing. MSK has been consistently ranked among the top two cancer centers in the country for over 30 years.
This recognition of excellence reflects the depth and breadth of expertise that the Head and Neck Service at MSK brings to treatment for people with head and neck diseases. Richard Wong, MD, Chief of the Head and Neck Service, leads expert otolaryngologists and head and neck surgeons as they manage all types of tumors in this region, including thyroid cancer, mouth cancer, laryngeal and pharyngeal cancers, salivary tumors, nasal cavity and sinus cancers, skull base tumors, skin cancers, and many others. In addition, the MSK Head and Neck Disease Management Team, co-directed by Dr. Wong; David Pfister, MD, Chief of the Head and Neck Oncology Service; and Nancy Lee, MD, Chief of Head and Neck Radiation Oncology, leads the way in treating head and neck cancers in a personalized, patient-centered way, through a multidisciplinary approach and application of the latest treatment advances.
MSK’s surgical team performs over 2,200 major operations annually and is widely recognized as a leader in thyroid surgery, transoral robotic surgery, microlaryngeal surgery, endoscopic skull base surgery, and complex surgical resections. Close collaborations with the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgical Service have optimized cutting-edge techniques with microvascular surgery and virtual surgical planning. These advances work to preserve our patients’ form and function in the head and neck region.
A Personalized and Multidisciplinary Approach
A team of more than 80 experts meets weekly to discuss personalized care and develop individualized treatment plans for patients. This team combines doctors from many areas of expertise including surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, endocrinology, neuroradiology, head and neck pathology, dentistry and prosthodontics, plastic surgery, neurosurgery, and speech and swallowing rehabilitation. These experts have refined the use of state-of-the-art proton beam radiation, which allows precision treatment targeting, and genetic testing to predict drug treatment efficacy. MSK’s personalized approach ensures that each patient is informed of all their options and receives the right treatment.
Innovative Research and Clinical Trials
MSK experts are leaders in developing innovative treatments that are more effective than standard therapies, and often safer, through cutting-edge laboratory research and clinical trials. Head and Neck Service otolaryngologists lead three independent research laboratories, each investigating how head and neck cancers progress. The Head and Neck Disease Management Team also includes an internationally recognized thyroid cancer research lab that is leading the development of precision therapies for these cancers. All these research laboratories have been awarded major grants from the National Institutes of Health.
MSK’s head and neck physicians lead a wide variety of innovative clinical trials investigating novel approaches toward improving patient care. Participating in a clinical trial may give individuals access to treatments that are not widely available elsewhere. Current clinical trials at MSK are testing new drug therapies for head and neck cancers, safer and more-effective approaches to head and neck radiation therapy, better imaging of cancer, and strategies for preserving the quality of life during and after treatment.
Expertise in HPV-Related Cancers
The number of head and neck cancers related to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has surged in recent years, especially in men. The good news is that the HPV vaccine can protect your child against cancers — those of the cervix, anus, throat, penis, vagina, and more. MSK has joined with other National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers and additional organizations to launch awareness initiatives urging the nation’s physicians, parents, and young adults to get vaccinations back on track after a steep decline throughout the pandemic.
For those who may be diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer, MSK offers specialized approaches to reduce the side effects of treatment without affecting the chances of a cure. Through clinical trials and landmark research, MSK is bringing new treatment options that apply our growing knowledge of HPV at the molecular level to the clinic in real time, to improve the efficacy and decrease the side effects of treatment. Earlier this year, MSK researchers reported that many of these cancers might be successfully treated with a sharply reduced radiation dose, decreasing radiation-associated side effects that slow recovery and adversely affect quality of life and function, all without affecting the chances of cure.
Through close collaboration between physicians and scientists, and through innovative research and education, MSK’s goal is to provide world-class, compassionate care to patients while discovering more effective strategies to prevent, control, and ultimately cure cancer.
The U.S. News & World Report rankings are determined using a broad set of factors. These include the hospital’s reputation among board-certified physician specialists around the nation, patient survival and safety data, and adequacy of nurse staffing levels, among other criteria. For a complete list and methodology of rankings, please visit U.S. News & World Report.