New program treats head, neck and skull base tumors

In January, Norton Cancer Institute opened the Head, Neck and Skull Base Tumor Program to treat the complex and unique needs of patients with cancers and benign tumors in these areas. The integrated care program offers multiple services and providers and gives patients coordinated, individualized treatment plans.

Patients like the program because they can see multiple providers in a single day, making it easier for both patients and their family members, according to Aaron C. Spalding, M.D., Ph.D., radiation oncologist, Norton Cancer Institute.

“Successful treatment for these patients involves multiple providers and support services,”

Dr. Spalding said. “If we’re a patient-focused organization looking to reduce wait times and looking to reduce the burden on patients and their families, then the Head, Neck and Skull Base Tumor Program is a necessity, not a luxury.”

The program treats benign and malignant tumors of the head, neck and skull base, such as basal cell carcinoma, malignant thyroid, throat cancer and skull base tumors, including the nasal cavity, salivary glands, and ear and temporal bone.

Treatment options include surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery, external beam radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy.

The program also has the potential to improve outcomes, because interventions can begin more quickly. For example, Dr. Spalding said patients can have their cases reviewed by a team of physicians and undergo surgery, if needed, in two to three days, as opposed to two weeks or more with traditional care.

The integrated care offered by the Head, Neck and Skull Base Tumor Program also makes it easier for primary care physicians in their role as their patients’ coordinators of care.

Oncology-certified nurses guide patients through their appointments and coordinate a weekly treatment-planning meeting with the care team. These patient navigator services are free to the patient, as are services available through Norton Cancer Institute Resource Centers.

The program offers integrated care from ear, nose and throat surgeons; neurosurgeons; plastic surgeons; medical oncologists; and radiation oncologists, who work with patients to create individualized treatment plans.

In addition, the program offers patients access to a behavioral oncologist, oral prosthodontist, speech pathologist and nutritionist.

For more information or to make a referral, call (502) 629-1800.

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