Your health care team
Your GP will arrange the first tests to assess your symptoms. If these tests do not rule out cancer, you will usually be referred to a specialist, who will arrange further tests. If a head and neck cancer is diagnosed, the specialist will consider treatment options. Often these will be discussed with other health professionals at what is known as a multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting.
During and after treatment, you will see a range of health professionals who specialise in different aspects of your care. It is recommended that complex head and neck cancer is treated in a specialist centre. Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for information about specialist centres for head and neck cancer in your area.
You can also ask Cancer Council about assistance that may be available if you have to travel a long way for treatment.
The health professionals you may see include:
|ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist||treats disorders of the ear, nose and throat|
|head and neck surgeon||diagnoses and treats cancers of the head and neck; may be an ENT, general, plastic, or oral and maxillofacial surgeon|
|oral and maxillofacial surgeon||treats disorders of the mouth, face and jaws|
|reconstructive (plastic) surgeon||performs surgery that restores, repairs or reconstructs the body’s appearance and function|
|dentist or oral medicine specialist||evaluates and treats the mouth and teeth, which can be affected by cancer treatment|
|radiation oncologist||treats cancer by prescribing and overseeing a course of radiation therapy|
|medical oncologist||treats cancer with drug therapies such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and hormone therapy (systemic treatment)|
|nurse||administers drugs and provides care, information and support throughout treatment|
|cancer care coordinator||coordinates your care, liaises with MDT members, and supports you throughout treatment; may be a clinical nurse consultant (CNC) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS)|
|speech pathologist||evaluates and treats communication, voice and swallowing difficulties during and after treatment|
|dietitian||recommends an eating plan to follow while you are in treatment and recovery|
|social worker||links you to support services and helps you with emotional, practical and financial issues|
|counsellor, psychologist||help you manage your emotional response to diagnosis and treatment|
|physiotherapist, occupational therapist||assist with physical and practical problems, including restoring movement and mobility after treatment, helping with breathing and airway clearance, and recommending aids and equipment|
A/Prof David Wiesenfeld, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Director, Head and Neck Tumour Stream, The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre at Melbourne Health, VIC; Alan Bradbury, Consumer; Dr Ben Britton, Senior Clinical and Health Psychologist, John Hunter Hospital, NSW; Dr Madhavi Chilkuri, Radiation Oncologist, Townsville Cancer Centre, The Townsville Hospital, QLD; Jedda Clune, Senior Dietitian (Head and Neck Cancer), Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA; Dr Fiona Day, Staff Specialist, Medical Oncology, Calvary Mater Newcastle, and Conjoint Senior Lecturer, The University of Newcastle, NSW; Dr Ben Dixon, ENT, Head and Neck Surgeon, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, VIC; Emma Hair, Senior Social Worker, St George Hospital, NSW; Rosemerry Hodgkin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Kara Hutchinson, Head and Neck Cancer Nurse Coordinator, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, VIC; A/Prof Julia Maclean, Speech Pathologist, St George Hospital, NSW; Prof Jane Ussher, Chair, Women’s Health Psychology, Translational Health Research Institute (THRI), School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, NSW; Andrea Wong, Physiotherapist, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, VIC. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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What you can reasonably expect from your health care providers
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