Monday, June 8, 2015

Research Initatives

Head and neck cancers encompass tumors in the nasal passages, mouth, throat, larynx, salivary glands, neck, skull base, upper esophagus, trachea and thyroid gland. Our staff is dedicated to the development and implementation of highly interactive head and neck clinical research trials targeting elucidation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cancer development, and surgical, medical oncology and radiation oncology-based treatment strategies to optimize functional outcomes.

Our team of researchers encompasses a wide range of disciplines including head and neck surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, oral pathology and medicine, speech pathology, oncology nursing, oncology social work, and oncology dietitians. Our highly successful interdisciplinary program is focused on improving patients' quality of life through functional improvements and increased survival.

Our head and neck surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and oral pathologist have published extensively on a wide array of head and neck cancer treatment initiatives and state-of-the-art methodologies.

Over the years our staff has continued to stay in the forefront of cancer care, treating patients with innovative treatment approaches and expanding research initiatives.

Our research focuses on the following areas in head and neck cancer research clinical trials:
  • Cellular and molecular biology of cancer
  • Robotic surgery [daVinci system]
  • Functional outcome studies and quality of life issues
  • New chemotherapy approaches
  • Integration of precancer prevention and treatments
  • Role of human papilloma virus [HPV] in head and neck cancer
  • Image-based radiation therapy
  • Use of ultrasound on swallowing evaluation and rehabilitation

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

For Patients and Families

Dr. Ha with a patient

Johns Hopkins Head & Neck Surgery offers a host of minimally invasive procedures including:
  • Advanced Skin Cancer Surgery
  • GBMC's da Vinci® Robotic Surgery Treatment
  • Diagnostic Ultrasound
  • Endoscopic Laser Resection of Laryngeal Tumors
  • Laryngectomy
  • Management of head and neck premalignancy
  • Mandibulectomy
  • Melanoma Surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Skull Base Surgery
  • Neck Dissection
  • Parathyroidectomy
  • Parotidectomy
  • Salivary Gland Surgery
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping and Biopsy
  • State-of-the-art video endoscopic instrumentation including flexible endoscopy
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Tracheo-Esophogeal Puncture
  • Transnasal Esophagoscopy
  • Transoral Robotic Surgery
Johns Hopkins Head & Neck Surgery team work hand-in-hand with the multidisciplinary team of professionals at the Milton J. Dance, Jr. Head and Neck Center to ensure a coordinated plan of care for patients with head and neck conditions.

Patients and their families receive education and counseling during every stage of care. Individual and group support services are provided by a team that consists of speech-language pathologists, head and neck nurse specialist, oncology social workers and a registered dietitian.

Multidisciplinary team services provided by the Milton J. Dance, Jr. Head & Neck Center include:
  • Head and Neck Nursing
  • Oncology Social Work
  • Speech Pathology Services
  • Nutritional Counseling
  • Oral Pathology/Oral Medicine
  • Maxillofacial Pathology

Monday, March 23, 2015

Defeating Cancer and Giving Back

In 2010, I was diagnosed with stage 3 throat cancer and my local primary care physician referred me to Dr. Califano at the Dance Center at GBMC. In preparation for my treatment, Dr. Califano admitted me to GBMC to perform several procedures: relocation of my left salivary gland from the submandibular to under my chin, a surgical biopsy and insertion of a feeding tube. Read more...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Post Operative Symptoms / Difficulty Swallowing

In August of this year I underwent cervical laminectomy and fusion. The left side of my throat has a sensation of something being stuck when I swallow. All tests come up clear of any obstruction. Would this just leave a muscle or nerve problem? It definitely interferes with my breathing and at times more than at others. Physical activity seems to exacerbate the problem, especially if it involves using my arms lifting or pushing. Is it possible that this, with time, will ease and allow my breathing to become easier?

Barbara Messing, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S replies...

Thank you for posting your question to our Head and Neck Q&A forum.

The symptoms you describe are commonly listed as potential post operative symptoms that may occur up to several weeks post operatively. For persistent symptoms as you have described: difficulty breathing and the sensation of something stuck in your throat when you swallow [tightness in throat, difficulty swallowing] are symptoms that should be reevaluated by your surgeon. If difficulty breathing and tightness in your throat worsens, you should seek immediate medical assistance or call 911.

In general terms, your symptoms may be related to post operative edema/swelling, nerve injury or mechanical factors from the fusion/plate. A Modified Barium Swallow Study performed by a Speech Pathologist and Radiologist is recommended to evaluate your swallow function and assess potential impact of structural changes. Endoscopy should be performed to visualize your throat [hypopharynx]. This can be performed by a Speech Pathologist and/or an Otolaryngologist/Laryngologist [Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation .

I recommend you go to this website for further information:  There you will find patient materials that may be helpful to you.

I also recommend that you follow up with your surgeon for additional information and possible further evaluation.

Barbara Messing, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
Clinical Specialist in Head & Neck Rehabilitation
Board Certified in Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders