Head and neck cancer

Specialized treatment from a leader in cancer care

You want the best in head and neck cancer care. Consider UW Health, which is affiliated with the UW Carbone Cancer Center, Wisconsin's only comprehensive cancer as designated by the National Cancer Institute.
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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 treated each year at UW Hospital

Treatments and research

Expert 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

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

Locations

A national center for cancer care

We serve people from across Wisconsin and beyond at the UW Carbone Cancer Center.

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  • UW Carbone Cancer Center
    • 600 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • Open now
    • The University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center is a pioneer in cancer research and quality patient care. It is the only comprehensive cancer center in Wisconsin, as designated by the National Cancer Institute.

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  • UW Carbone Cancer Clinic - 1 S. Park
    • 1 S. Park St. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 287-2552
    • Open now
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  • SwedishAmerican Regional Cancer Center
    • 3535 N Bell School Road / Rockford, IL
    • Open now
    • Patients here have convenient local access to UW Health cancer specialists in areas such as breast cancer, head-and-neck cancer, endocrine cancer, and thoracic surgical and abdominal surgical oncology.

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  • Beloit Cancer Center
    • 1670 Lee Lane / Beloit, WI
    • Open now
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  • UW Health Johnson Creek
    UW Health Johnson Creek
    UW Cancer Center Johnson Creek
    • 250 Doctors Ct. / Johnson Creek, WI
    • (920) 699-3500
    • Open now
    • UW Cancer Center Johnson Creek offers the people of southeastern Wisconsin local access to leading-edge research and treatments offered by the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center in Madison.

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  • UW Cancer Center at ProHealth Care
    • N16 W24131 Riverwood Drive / Waukesha, WI
    • Open now
    • Partnered with the UW Carbone Cancer Center at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, UW Health Cancer Center at ProHealth Care offers world-class cancer care in a comforting setting close to home.

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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 health care 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.