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Head and Neck Cancer Program

Head and Neck Cancer Program

Featuring today’s most advanced cancer-fighting technologies and a multifaceted team of expert oncologists, surgeons and therapists, Winter Park Memorial Hospital is proving that the very best in care is also very close to home.

Led by the Medical Director Henry Ho, MD, FACS, our head and neck cancer program draws on the expertise of the area’s largest and most experienced team of otolaryngologists. Our experience with thyroid, parathyroid, salivary gland, laryngeal, sino-nasal, temporal bone and advanced cutaneous tumors is unsurpassed in the area, as are the new techniques in minimally invasive surgery that have been pioneered by doctors at our hospital. Techniques like endoscopic skull base surgery, trans-oral laser microsurgery, and trans-oral robotic surgery, which are giving new hope to patients facing today’s most challenging head and neck cancer diagnoses.

We also feature a specialized Otolaryngology Surgical Services Unit, the only one of its kind in Central Florida. This innovative unit streamlines the process of care from our offices, to the operating room, to the Otolaryngology Unit, and back to our offices, in a seamless fashion.

The coordination of care among our medical and radiation oncology colleagues is enhanced by our longstanding head and neck tumor board and journal club. An understanding of the relative strengths and weaknesses of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy for each patient leads to optimal treatment recommendations.

Preserving Speech and Swallowing with Transoral Robotic Surgery 

Head and neck tumor treatments often involve a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. In many cases, surgery offers the greatest chance of cure; yet conventional surgery may require an almost ear-to-ear incision across the throat or splitting the jaw, resulting in speech and swallowing difficulties for patients.

Transoral robotic surgery offers an alternative to traditional surgery and allows surgeons to remove tumors of the mouth, tongue, tonsils and parts of the larynx while preserving speech, swallowing and eating ability. 

The minimally invasive approach, which accesses the surgical site through the mouth, has been shown to improve long term swallowing function and reduce risk of infection while speeding up the recovery time. When compared to traditional surgeries, after their cancers have been removed successfully, patients have been able to begin swallowing on their own sooner and leave the hospital earlier. Transoral Robotic Surgery outcomes are markedly improved when compared to standard chemotherapy, radiation or traditional open surgical approaches for oropharyngeal cancer. While patients may still need radiation after Transoral Robotic Surgery, it is at a much lower dose, with reduced side effects.

Specialists Jeffrey Lehman, MD and Henry Ho, MD, medical director of head and neck program at Winter Park Memorial Hospital utilize the da Vinci® Surgical System robot to precisely remove tumors. The robotic technology provides physicians three-dimensional, high-definition imaging and better dexterity. 

Complimenting our highly effective surgical services is an academic level speech pathology department with specialized focus in preserving and restoring speech and swallowing, where those functions are at risk.