The Sentara Cancer Network partners with Eastern Virginia Medical School head and neck surgeons and researchers to advance treatments, as well as the only dedicated head and neck oncology team in the Hampton Roads region. The team features: three fellowship-trained surgeons, a microvascular reconstruction specialist, a fellowship-trained pathologist, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, endocrinologists, neuroradiologists, dentists, a licensed social worker, a dietician and oncology research nurses.

These experts meet weekly to plan treatment for 100 percent of all head and neck cases, and share information so that they can give patients the best care possible. In 2010, they were the first in Virginia to introduce TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. TORS is a minimally invasive surgical procedure for removing tumors in the throat and voice box (larynx). Instead of making an incision, the surgeons work through the patient’s mouth to remove tumors.

They use the da Vinci robotic surgical system with TORS, and the system makes it possible to see the area that needs surgery clearly and without making any external surgical cuts. Patients appreciate this because there is less scarring, a lower risk of infection and blood transfusion, easier swallowing afterwards and a quicker return to everyday living. The Sentara Cancer Network continues to advance our technology to better treat our patients.

In discussing the form of treatment, the doctor will consider several factors, including the stage and location of the cancer, the patient's ability to talk, eat and breathe normally, and the patient's age and general health.

Treatment options may include: