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Head and neck cancer (tumours developing in the tissues and organs of the head and neck) includes cancers of the nasal cavity and sinuses, the mouth, tonsils, base of tongue, voice box and upper oesophagus. The Head and Neck cancer team also treats cancers of the thyroid and non-melanoma skin cancer of the head and neck.

The head and neck cancer team includes specialist surgeons, clinical nurse specialists, Speech and Language therapists, dieticians, medical and clinical oncologists, radiologists and pathologists.

Do I need any tests to confirm diagnosis?

St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust offers a comprehensive diagnostic service including the full range of specialist endoscopic, radiological, and pathology services.  A combination of the following tests may be used to determine a diagnosis of cancer during, or following clinic visits

  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) of head and neck lumps
  • Ultrasound scan
  • Biopsy from the throat under a local or general anaesthetic
  • Barium Swallow
  • CT Scan
  • MRI Scan
  • PET-CT Scan
What treatment are available?

Head and neck cancers are usually treated with surgery, radiotherapy, with or without chemotherapy (or a combination of these treatments). The type of surgery needed and the particular combination of surgery, plus of minus radiotherapy, will depend on the type and complexity of head and neck cancer.

The head and neck surgical team at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of the largest in the United Kingdom, and performs the full complement of surgical procedures for head and neck cancer, within the South West London area, including minimally invasive robotic and laser surgery, as well as microvascular free flap reconstruction. St George’s Hospital  is also the regional centre for all skull-base surgery relating to cancer, and benefits from having the regional neurosurgical unit on site.  We are a joint cancer centre with the Royal Marsden Hospital where the radiotherapy, radioactive iodine, and chemotherapy treatments are provided.

Support and Rehabilitation

Patients and their carers have access to:

  • Our specialist head and neck nursing staff on Florence Nightingale ward
  • A clinical nurse specialist for information and support throughout the cancer pathway.
  • Highly specialist speech and language therapists and Dieticians providing pre and post therapy, and on-going rehabilitation in the hospital and an outreach service closer to home.
  • Our physiotherapy team offer rehabilitation on the ward and referral on if ongoing therapy is required.
  • Restorative Dental service for dental maintenance and rehabilitation following surgery and radiotherapy. It also hosts the regional maxillofacial laboratory, providing expertise in prosthetic rehabilitation.
  • Access to our Macmillan cancer psychological team (CaPS)
  • Access to Macmillan information and financial advice
  • Access to complementary therapy on the ward
  • Tracheostomy clinic

St George’s Hospital is a large teaching hospital with the full range of skills and support services needed to be able to carry out complex cancer surgery. These include intensive care (ITU), anaesthetic and pain management services, which are all available on site.