Head and Neck


Connect With Us: 616-555-1212
Head and neck cancers affect delicate tissues you need to speak, swallow and eat. When you come to the Cancer Network of West Michigan, you receive more of the services you need close to home. Our unwavering focus on quality and safety helps more patients achieve outstanding results.
What Is Head and Neck Cancer?

This group of cancers affects soft tissues behind your face, below your brain or in the upper throat. Head and neck cancer can occur in your:

  • Nasal cavity, inner part of the nose
  • Oral cavity, including the lips, inside of the cheeks and front two-thirds of the tongue
  • Oropharyngeal cancer is found in an area of the throat called your oropharynx
  • Salivary glands
  • Sinuses, air pockets behind your nose and forehead that support air flow and produce mucus
  • Throat, including your windpipe and voice box
  • Tonsils (adenoids)

Head and Neck Cancer Treatment at the Cancer Network: Why Choose Us?

Head and neck cancer care often includes surgery. At the Cancer Network, you receive services from highly skilled surgeons who use research-based methods. These include Mercy Health, University of Michigan Health-West and University of Michigan Health Rogel Cancer Center. Many locations have American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer accreditation. This prestigious designation is only awarded to programs that maintain high care standards. Learn more about us.

Our surgeons use sophisticated techniques to treat head and neck cancer. We minimize disruption to healthy tissue, which may preserve your ability to eat, speak or swallow. The team also includes trusted medical and radiation oncologists who deliver therapies that shrink or destroy cancer cells.
Tumor Boards
Mercy Health and University of Michigan Health-West cancer experts communicate regularly in meetings called tumor boards. Cancer specialists from each organization discuss test results and treatment options. This approach enables us to tailor therapies to your unique needs.
You may be eligible for innovative therapies that are only available through clinical trials. Cancer Network locations have been participating in national clinical trials for decades. Our research coordinators explain how you might benefit and what to expect. Learn more about cancer clinical trials.
Nurse navigators arrange appointments and other services that keep treatments moving forward. They are by your side throughout your care journey. You also have access to specialists between appointments. If you have questions, call us or send us a message through our secure patient portal.
Head and Neck
Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms are mild at first. You may confuse them with common illnesses, like a cold or strep throat. But they gradually worsen causing discomfort that affects daily life.

The head and neck cancer symptoms you experience depend on the tumor’s location and may include:

  • Blood in your saliva
  • Pain and difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Nonhealing mouth sores
  • Red or white patches in the mouth
  • Numbness affecting your face, jaw or tongue
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose that does not get better
head and neck cancer

We use a variety of methods to diagnose head and neck cancer. Your care starts with a physical exam. This may include using a handheld light to assess areas that are easy to reach, such as your mouth or the top of your throat.

To examine areas that are harder to access, you may need tests, such as:

  • Endoscopy: We slide a thin and flexible tube with a camera at the tip up your nostrils or down your throat to check for abnormal growths.
  • Biopsy: Doctors take a tissue sample and examine it under a microscope. This test helps us confirm or rule out cancer.
  • Imaging: You may need a CT scan, PET/CT, MRI, or other imaging studies. If cancer is present, these tests pinpoint the location of it and help us plan therapies.
Head and Neck
Cancer Treatment
The Cancer Network gives you access to more of the therapies you need in one program. Your care may include:
  • Surgery: Head and neck cancer surgery involves removing the cancer and a small rim of surrounding tissue. We tailor our approach, so you receive the most effective procedure for your needs.
  • Reconstructive surgery: If surgeons remove large sections of tissue, you may undergo reconstructive surgery in the same procedure. We use tissue from other areas of the body to restore functioning to your jaw, tongue or other affected areas.
  • Chemotherapy and other medical oncology: Anticancer drugs and other substances slow abnormal cell growth. You receive therapies in comfortable infusion suites where attentive nurses monitor your care.
  • Radiation oncology: You may need radiation therapy after surgery to eliminate trace levels of cancer. We use radiation to deliver focused treatments that destroy cancer cells’ ability to multiply.
Cancer side effects can make it difficult to get the nutrients you need. Our registered dietitians recommend food options that are right for your needs.
Speech and swallow
We help you cope with changes affecting your ability to speak and swallow. Therapists perform a thorough evaluation and tailor services to maximize your abilities.
Social workers make living with cancer a little less stressful on you and your loved ones. They are familiar with the challenges that a cancer diagnosis can bring. You can count on them for useful tips and referrals to local support services
Cancer treatments often come with unexpected costs. Financial counselors ease this burden. They assess your current insurance coverage and identify benefit options. Counselors may also recommend financial assistance programs you qualify for.
Head and Neck Cancer
The best and brightest focused on your care.
Expert care not far from home:

Cancer Network services are available at several locations across West Michigan. Each facility represents the full strength, compassion and expertise we have to offer. Our integrated approach makes it easier to receive care where you’re most comfortable — near home and loved ones. 

Trinity Health Lacks Cancer Center
250 Cherry Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Trinity Health Johnson Family Cancer Center
1440 Sherman Blvd
Muskegon, MI 49444
University of Michigan Health-West Cancer Center
5950 Metro Way
Wyoming, MI 49519

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Ready to Talk to an expert?
The Cancer Network of West Michigan can provide a fast-tracked evaluation of your diagnosis, helping you make the best decision for your care.