Overview

Specialized treatment from a leader in cancer care

At UW Health, we treat all types of head and neck cancers. This includes cancers of the mouth, throat, tongue, tonsil, larynx, lip, sinuses and nasal cavity.

We use the most advanced, precise and innovative therapies to attack your individual cancer. At the same time, we provide expert support and services to help you achieve the best possible quality of life during and after your cancer treatment.

The UW Carbone Cancer Center is the only comprehensive cancer center in Wisconsin. You can count on us for exceptional care.

500+People
with head and neck cancer are treated each year at UW Hospital

Treatments and research

Treatment tailored to your needs

At UW Health, our multidisciplinary team meets weekly to discuss each new case in a specialized Tumor Board specifically designed for head and neck cancer patients. Together, we design an individualized plan for your treatment. The team’s knowledge and experience ensure that you receive the best possible care. There are several treatments we might suggest.

Surgery

Surgery to remove your cancer is frequently part of treatment. We often use minimally invasive techniques and sometimes use robotic surgery.

We offer specialized surgical procedures for:

“Free tissue transfer” or “free flap” surgery replaces cancerous tissues with your own healthy tissues. This technique can provide improved functional outcomes compared with surgeries of the past.

We perform functional neck dissections to spare as much of your healthy neck tissue as possible. We also perform advanced skull-based surgery.

We often use laser for these procedures, which may allow us to remove less tissue than we would otherwise.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy, x-rays or beams to eradicate your cancer. There are several advanced types of radiation that we commonly use for head and neck cancer:

This type of radiation involves directing radiation beams toward your tumor from multiple different angles. The radiation conforms to your tumor’s size and shape. This lessens exposure of healthy tissue.

This type of radiation allows us to change the size, shape and intensity of the individual radiation beams. This technique provides excellent shaping of the radiation to match your tumor.

This treatment technology was invented and developed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin. This enables us to obtain CT scan images of your tumor moments before we deliver each dose of radiation.

This specialized radiation technique uses highly precise beams to treat small tumors in the head, neck and spine region, often requiring only one or a few treatment sessions.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy involves the use of medication to kill cancer cells. Whereas surgery and radiation therapy treat cancer in a specific location, chemotherapy travels throughout your body.

Research offers hope for improved treatments

Doctors at UW Health who care for people with head and neck cancers also engage in research. They look for new and improved treatments. The University of Wisconsin is currently one of only three centers in the nation to be awarded a major NIH SPORE Grant to advance new research and treatment techniques in head and neck cancer.

Learn more about our clinical trials

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UW Carbone Cancer Center
Patient and family visitor guide

To help you feel comfortable during your stay at the UW Carbone Cancer Center, we invite you to learn about our facility and the services we offer.

Meet our team

An expert team fighting alongside you

Cancers that affect your head and neck require expert care since they can affect your speech, breathing, swallow function, taste and appearance. Those who may take part in your care at UW Health include:

  • Audiologists

  • Dentists

  • Ear, nose and throat doctors (otolaryngologists)

  • Medical oncologists

  • Neuroradiologists

  • Nurses

  • Nutrition specialists

  • Pain specialists

  • Pathologists

  • Radiation oncologists

  • Speech-language specialists

  • Voice and swallow specialists

Medical oncology
Radiation oncology
Otolaryngology

Locations

A national center for cancer care

We serve people from across Wisconsin and Illinois through the UW Carbone Cancer Center.

    Make an appointment

    Contact us

    Patient and support services

    Whole-person care for your cancer journey

    Supporting you throughout your cancer experience is an important part of our work at UW Health. To ease your path, we offer these resources.

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    Your charitable gift makes a difference

    Perhaps you are grateful for the care you or a loved one received from UW Health. Or you cherish living so close to a world-class, research-driven healthcare system that’s always there if you need it. No matter your motivation, every gift of any size means even better care for our patients.