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UCLA Head and Neck Surgery


Head and Neck Surgical Oncology

Head and Neck Surgical Oncology


Head and Neck Surgical Oncology - UCLA Division of Head and Neck SurgeryThe UCLA Head and Neck Surgical Oncology Program offers comprehensive, specialized care for patients with benign and malignant tumors located between the brain and the clavicle, anterior to the spine, including tumors of the pharynx, larynx, jaw and tongue, as well as tumors of the thyroid and parathyroid glands and carotid arteries.

The Head and Neck Surgical Oncology Program has maintained a national reputation throughout the 25+ years since its inception, particularly in the areas of partial laryngeal surgery and mandible-sparing procedures for oral cavity tumors. Head and Neck Surgery Oncology team members offer interdisciplinary specialization in head and neck oncology, reconstructive surgery and laser surgery as well laryngeal physiology and speech therapy. Neurosurgeons, ophthalmologists, maxillofacial experts, and radiation oncologists are incorporated into care as indicated.

Patient Care

Patients referred to the program usually have prima facie evidence of a tumor, either through biopsy or X-ray. The initial consultation involves a complete evaluation by a head and neck surgeon, including additional diagnostic procedures such as fine-needle aspiration, open biopsies, CT scans, and MRI studies. Many patients are geographically distant from UCLA and special arrangements are often made to optimize the patient's time at UCLA. Program staff provide consultative services, as well as consultation and treatment, depending on the nature of the referral and the preferences of the referring physician and patient. Referring physicians receive detailed written reports on clinical findings and treatment recommendations.

Treatments include radiation alone for early lesions, minimally invasive surgery where appropriate, a combination of surgery and radiation and, in some cases, chemotherapy. Clinical trials for chemotherapeutic agents and emerging surgical techniques are available to appropriate patients.

The program specializes in complex anatomical and functional problems, and excels in reconstructive rehabilitation of patients with functional and cosmetic defects resulting from ablative surgery. Microvascular free flaps and osseointegrated implants are routinely utilized, along with prostheses, to restore patients' ability to swallow, speak and chew normally, and to maintain normal appearance. Post-operative care is closely coordinated with the referring physician and geared toward monitoring the patient for tumor recurrences.

Since head and neck cancer is usually related to smoking and alcohol consumption, patients are counseled with regard to lifestyle changes.

Research Applications

Program research focuses on clinical studies for new drug therapies and surgical innovations. Our faculty have expanded the horizons of head and neck resection and reconstruction. Through research, the discipline has made great strides in surgical techniques that have enabled definitive treatment for previously inoperable tumors. Program research in early tumor detection and laryngeal physiology is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Current research directions include:

  • Laryngeal physiology to facilitate emerging surgical techniques
  • Use of biomarkers for early cancer detection
  • Improved ways to deliver chemotherapeutic agents to target tissues
  • Understanding the molecular underpinnings of head and neck cancer

Our Expert Team

Elliot Abemayor, MD, PhD
Gerald Berke, MD
Keith Blackwell, MD
Quinton Gopen, MD
Paul Kedeshian, MD
Abie Mendelsohn, MD
Vishad Nabili, MD
Joel Sercarz, MD
Maie St. John, MD, PhD
Jeffrey Suh, MD
Marilene Wang, MD



For information, referral and appointments, call (310) 206-6688.


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