Head & neck cancers
We provide diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitation services for patients with head and neck cancers. This includes mouth and throat cancer, including the thyroid gland, salivary and sinus tumours.
Many patients are referred to the Head & Neck Cancer service because they have found a lump. To investigate this further we may perform the following:
- ultrasound and Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) at a one-stop clinic
- an examination under anaesthetic (EUA) and a biopsy
- MRI, CT or a PET scan
Other patients are referred to us with a sore throat, change in voice quality or difficulty with swallowing. These may be investigated by using a flexible nasoendoscope (a thin, flexible tube) to allow the doctor to have a look on the inside of the nose and throat.
Treating head and neck cancers
In most cases, the aim of treatment is to remove or destroy all of the cancer and to reduce the chances of it coming back. Treatment options vary depending on the size, location and stage of the cancer but generally include radiotherapy or surgery, or a combination of both. If radiotherapy is suggested as the best treatment this may involve some chemotherapy, either during or after the radiotherapy.
Radioactive treatment may be given for some patients with thyroid cancer.
Patients will have the opportunity to meet one of our Head & Neck Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) who are there to support you before, during and after your treatment, including signposting you to other sources of support and information. The CNS also run post-treatment courses and an annual 'Living With & Beyond Cancer' day.
You will also see our Head & Neck Dietitian, who can offer methods of adapting your diet to help manage your weight and to support your oral intake during and after treatment. You may also see a speech therapist, who can help you with swallowing and speech difficulties.
The restorative dental service is provided one day a week alternating between Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General Hospitals. All patients who are to undergo radiotherapy receive a full dental assessment prior to treatment and are given their own individual care plan to follow, including access to the hygienist to help with the maintenance of their teeth and gum
Urgent outpatient appointments for patients with suspected Head & Neck cancer are held at both Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General Hospitals. The one-stop neck lump clinic is held on Friday mornings at Cheltenham General Hospital.
Radiology investigations, such as MRI or CT scans, can be on either site. All Head & Neck surgery is performed at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. Patients who have undergone surgery will be cared for on Ward 2B, at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, although patients undergoing initial investigations or a minor surgical procedure may be cared for on the Day Surgery Unit.
The Oncology Centre at Cheltenham General Hosptial provides chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments for Head & Neck cancer patients, and includes the Iodine Suite where thyroid patient receive their treatment.