Head and Neck Cancer
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Head and neck skin cancer (melanoma)

Our experts in medical and radiation oncology, head and neck surgery, and speech and rehabilitation therapy offer specialized care for patients. We provide superior diagnostic and treatment options for melanoma at all stages.

Risk assessment

We collaborate with our colleagues in dermato-pathology, and with our Odette Cancer Centre skin and melanoma care teams to assess relevant complexions, sunlight exposure, and medical health history (previous diagnosis of melanoma/family history/genetics).

Diagnosis & treatment options

If a mole or a pigmented area of the skin appears abnormal, the following tests and procedures are implemented for diagnosis of melanoma:

  • skin exams: checks for abnormal color, size, shape, or texture
  • biopsies: procedure to remove abnormal tissue and a small amount of normal surrounding tissue for pathology review

Newly diagnosed with head and neck skin cancer

We offer standard types of treatment including:

  • surgery
  • wide local excision
  • skin grafting
  • sentinel lymph node biops: checks cancer presence in main lymph node during surgery, if cancer is found, more lymph nodes are removed and checked via pathologist
  • chemotherapy
  • systemic chemotherapy: taken via mouth/injected into vein or muscle
  • regional chemotherapy: placed directly into cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), an organ, or body cavity
  • radiation therapy
  • biologic therapy
  • targeted therapy such as monoclonal antibody therapy
  • follow-up tests may be needed, and patients may want consider participation in clinical trials

Recurrent head and neck skin cancer

Treatment options include

  • targeted therapy
  • biologic therapy
  • chemotherapy
  • pain and symptom management therapy
  • access to clinical trials

Supportive care and information

Clinical trials

We are active in clinical trials

We've had clinical trial studies published. These include:

  • A Pilot Study of Contract-Enhanced Ultrasound for the Detection of Sentinel Lymph Nodes in Cutaneous Melanoma of the Head and Neck
  • A Single-Center, Non-randomized, Single-Group Pilot Study of Feasibility of the Contrast-Enhanced Ultrasound for the Detection of Sentinel Lymph Nodes in Cutaneous Melanoma of the Head and Neck (DEFINITY)
  • Staging Non-melanoma Skin Cancer Metastasis to the Parotid Gland

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About skin cancer

Skin is the body’s largest organ consisting of two main layers (epidermis-upper and dermis-lower). Melanoma (skin cancer) is a disease which begins in the epidermis and consists of three kinds of cells: squamous, basal, and melanocytes.