Center for Head and Neck Cancer


The Penn Difference

Innovative Research...Advanced Medicine...Service Excellence

  • Nationally recognized experts
  • Multidisciplinary evaluation
  • Advanced diagnostic testing, treatments and technologies
  • Coordinated care
  • Support services
  • A reputation for sensitivity and responsiveness
  • Personalized attention
  • Innovative clinical trials
  • The backing of an outstanding major research program with immediate translation to patient care

What sets Penn’s Center for Head and Neck Cancer apart?

Penn was one of the first nationally to establish an Interdisciplinary Center for Head and Neck Cancer. The Center offers dedicated services for those with particular types of head and neck cancer:

  • Thyroid Cancer- Penn's Center for Head and Neck Cancer has one of the largest thyroid cancer programs on the East Coast. We provide comprehensive evaluation as well as integrated medical and surgical management for patients with thyroid cancer.
  • Laryngeal Cancer-The key to successful management of laryngeal or voice box cancer is a multidisciplinary team approach. The combined expertise of The Center for Head and Neck Cancer team allows it to offer advanced surgical and non-surgical approaches to preserve the voice box while treating and controlling the cancer.
  • Cranial Base Tumors- Tumors that arise at the base of the skull create unique treatment challenges. Recent advances in surgical techniques, which combine microscopic neurotologic surgery, neurosurgery, head and neck surgery, and reconstructive surgery, permit the removal and control of tumors previously considered inoperable. Penn's Center for Cranial Base Surgery provides special diagnostic and surgical expertise in tumors affecting the base of the skull and brain.

It is this relentless pursuit for the very best clinical outcome and quality of life that drives Penn’s Center for Head and Neck Cancer.

Our Center for Head and Neck Cancer is distinguished in a number of ways including:

  • Penn treats more head and neck cancer patients than any other hospital in the region. Our center performs twice as many head and neck cancer procedures as any other Greater Philadelphia hospital. By putting this experience to work, we offer our patients the best possible treatment outcomes.
  • U.S. News & World Report ranked Penn Medicine one of the highest in the region for treatment of ear, nose and throat disorders. In addition, the hospital is ranked seventh in the entire country for Best Hospitals: Ear, Nose and Throat.
  • Penn established the world’s first TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) program. TORS is a minimally invasive, robotically-assisted surgical approach to removing tumors of the mouth, throat and voice box. It dramatically improves the treatment of head and neck cancers. Using this approach, tumors can be completely removed while preserving speech, swallowing, and other key functions, thus maintaining quality of life.
  • Our researchers have completed two studies – the most comprehensive and largest to date – that demonstrate the effective use of the daVinci Surgical Robotic System® to perform Trans-Oral Robotic Surgery (TORS) which greatly reduces surgical trauma for patients.
  • For laryngeal cancer, we offer advanced surgical and non-surgical approaches to preserve the voice box while treating and controlling the cancer, including minimally invasive laser surgery, performed through the mouth using endoscopy and supracricoid partial laryngectomy, which preserves speech, breathing and swallowing without a permanent tracheostomy.
  • We also offer particular expertise in using non-surgical approaches, such as radiation therapy alone or combined with chemotherapy. Depending on the extent of the initial cancer, non-surgical approaches may be the best way to save the voice box and cure the cancer.
  • Penn's head and neck reconstructive team uses state-of-the-art techniques to restore appearance and function.
  • We have one of the largest thyroid cancer programs on the East Coast. Our thyroid team is compromised of specialists who are experts in the field of surgery, endocrinology, pathology, cytology, and nuclear medicine. They are leaders in their fields, aware of the most current research about thyroid cancer and experienced in offering the best possible treatment options.
  • We provide comprehensive evaluation as well as integrated medical and surgical management for patients with thyroid cancer. Including minimally invasive ultrasound-guided needle biopsy of the thyroid and state-of-the-art imaging using such advanced technology as Positron Emission Tomography (PET).
  • Penn performs twice as many thyroid operations – and three times as many parathyroid operations – as other area hospitals.
  • Penn's Center for Cranial Base Surgery provides special diagnostic and surgical expertise in tumors affecting the base of the skull and brain. We offer a wide range of surgical approaches to maximize long-term results while limiting the involvement of non-cancerous areas during surgery.
  • Our Cranial Base Surgery Team is renowned for its cutting-edge, minimally-invasive and endoscopic approach to tumors. This approach, which minimizes external incisions, aids in quicker recovery, less pain, and improved cosmetic outcome.
  • We use a variety of techniques for cranial based surgery including: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), functional MRI, thin-cut computerized tomography (CT), three-dimensional CT angiography, cerebral blood flow studies, and super selective angiography for precise understanding of the location and size of cranial base tumors, critical to treatment planning.
  • Other state-of-the-art techniques employed during cranial base cancer surgery include: neurophysiological monitoring to provide real-time information about brain and nerve function resulting in increased safety and decreased length of surgery; and the use of microcatheters and angiography to improve the ability to see vessels during surgery and thus, reduce blood loss.
  • Post-operative care for cranial base cancer surgery is provided in the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit which is dedicated to caring for patients having surgery involving the central nervous system.