Pediatric Head and Neck Cancer Surgery

Pediatric Head and Neck Cancer Surgery


The area around the head and neck is very complex. Nerves, blood vessels, and organs work together to help us hear, see, smell, taste, and talk. Our faces and senses let us connect with the world. It’s very important to have a surgeon with strong experience in treating head and neck tumors in children.

Why choose MSK for your child’s head and neck cancer surgery?

If your child has a head or neck tumor, MSK’s head and neck surgeons in New York City can help. We’re national leaders in head and neck cancer operations, including surgery in children, from young kids to teenagers.

Choosing MSK, because where you go for treatment matters

It’s important to choose the best place for your child to have surgery to treat cancer in their head or neck. Not all hospitals and cancer centers offer the same level of skill for cancer care and surgery.

MSK pediatric head and neck surgeons are experts in what they do.

Experience. With head and neck surgery, it’s very important to remove the tumor the right way. MSK’s head and neck surgeons do more of these operations than most hospitals around the world. Research shows that patients at hospitals that do a higher number of surgeries have better treatment results. By choosing MSK first, you may be giving your child a better chance of beating cancer.

Results. We have excellent results with our head and neck surgeries. MSK has a low rate of complications (problems), so young people can recover faster.

The head and neck tumors MSK treats

The head and neck surgeons at MSK care for children, teens, and young adults with:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Salivary gland tumors
  • Tumors of the nose and sinuses
  • Sarcomas of the head and neck, including rhabdomyosarcoma (RAB-doh-MY-oh-sar-KOH-muh) and osteosarcoma (OS-tee-oh-sar-KOH-muh)
  • Oral (mouth) cancer
  • Pharynx (throat) cancer
  • Larynx (voice box) cancer
  • Rare pediatric head and neck tumors

Kids with brain tumors are cared for by MSK Kids neurosurgeons and pediatric neuro-oncologists. A pediatric neurosurgeon is a doctor with special training in surgery on the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and nerves). A pediatric neuro-oncologist is a doctor with special training in cancers of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Both kinds of doctors treat children and adolescents. 

Learn more about pediatric brain tumors.

Minimally invasive head and neck cancer surgery

MSK’s head and neck cancer surgeons offer traditional open surgery and minimally invasive methods. Minimally invasive procedures use endoscopes, robotic instruments, or lasers through the nose or mouth. They do less harm to the body. This means less pain and fewer side effects after surgery, and a faster recovery.

Procedures include:

  • Robotic surgery to take out tumors in the throat.
  • Laser surgery to treat tumors in the larynx.
  • Endoscopic surgery to remove tumors, using special tools that go in through your child’s nostrils. There are no outside incisions (cuts) in the skin.

How MSK keeps your child safe during surgery 

Our surgeons use the latest imaging methods during surgery. Imaging lets your surgeon see the tumor and its exact location very clearly. That helps their chances of getting out all the cancer, with less harm to nearby healthy tissue.

MSK surgeons work as a team for better results

Head and neck surgeons have special training in making incisions that leave as small and light a scar as possible. But if there’s a need for more complex reconstruction, your child’s care team includes MSK plastic surgeons.

A plastic surgeon can rebuild part of a jaw with cancer, using bone from the leg. They move a small piece of bone to the jaw and reattach the blood vessels. The new jawbone and the leg that provided the bone both work well after surgery.

MSK’s head and neck surgeons also work closely with MSK Kids neurosurgeons and ophthalmologists. An ophthalmologist (OF-thul-MAH-loh-jist) is a doctor with special training in eye diseases and eye surgery. They’re important members of the MSK Kids care team.

Learn more about head and neck cancer surgery at MSK.

Meet our head and neck cancer surgeons

Memorial Sloan Kettering surgeon Richard Wong
Richard J. Wong

Chief, Head and Neck Service; Jatin P. Shah Chair in Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology

Jay O. Boyle, MD
Jay O. Boyle

Attending Surgeon

MSK head & neck surgeon Marc Cohen
Marc A. Cohen

Surgical Director, Pituitary & Skull Base Tumor Center; Medical Director, Patient Access Services (PAS)

Memorial Sloan Kettering surgeon Jennifer Cracchiolo
Jennifer R. Cracchiolo

Assistant Attending Surgeon

Ian Ganly, MD, PhD
Ian Ganly

Attending Surgeon

Babak Givi
Babak Givi

Associate Attending Surgeon

Luc G. T. Morris, MD, MSc, FACS
Luc G. T. Morris

Director, Head & Neck Oncologic Surgery Fellowship Program; Head, Laboratory of Experimental Cancer Immunogenomics

Snehal G. Patel, MD, FRCS
Snehal G. Patel

Attending Surgeon

Benjamin R. Roman, MD, MSHP
Benjamin R. Roman

Assistant Attending Surgeon

Jatin P. Shah, MD, FACS
Jatin P. Shah

Elliot W. Strong Chair in Head and Neck Oncology

Ashok R. Shaha, MD, FACS
Ashok R. Shaha

Allan H. Selig Chair

Memorial Sloan Kettering surgeon Valeria Silva Merea
Valeria Silva Merea

Director, Speech and Hearing Center

Bhuvanesh Singh, MD, PhD, FACS
Bhuvanesh Singh

Director, Laboratory of Epithelial Cancer Biology; Co-Director, Multidisciplinary Skin Cancer Management Program

Memorial Sloan Kettering surgeon Brian Untch
Brian R. Untch

Assistant Attending Surgeon