Head & Neck Cancer

If you have cancer of the head or neck, it’s important to receive the highest quality of care. Trust us to treat your cancer with the most advanced treatments.

Nationally Ranked Cancer Care

UC San Diego Health is ranked among the top 50 in the nation for cancer care and ear, nose and throat care by U.S. News & World Report. We are also the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Diego County. The NCI designation is the highest possible rating for a U.S. cancer center, and it means you'll receive the best possible care and support. In addition, our specialists care for more patients with head and neck cancer than any other San Diego health care system.

We are supported by the Hanna and Mark Gleiberman Cancer Center, which funds clinical trials and endowment for our researchers — and helps ensure our patients receive innovative, compassionate care in a healing, supportive environment

Conditions We Treat

We treat all types of head and neck cancers, benign tumors and other disorders of the head and neck.

Comprehensive, Personalized Treatments for Head & Neck Cancers 

We make every effort to see new patients within a few days of diagnosis. On your first visit, you will usually first meet with your surgeon, discuss what our pathologists have found about your cancer, and review recommendations and options for treatment.


Our internationally renowned surgeons have expertise in organ preservation, microvascular surgery, minimally invasive techniques, and voice rehabilitation. Our leading-edge approaches mean we can often minimize scarring and maximize the cosmetic appearance and functional outcomes.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is commonly used to treat head and neck cancers, alone or in combination with chemotherapy and/or surgery. At UC San Diego Health, your care is overseen by board-certified radiation oncologists who specialize in head and neck cancers and use state-of-the-art imaging and treatment equipment.

Chemotherapy, Targeted Molecular Therapy and Immunotherapy

Our understanding of cancer, including how genetics contribute to the disease, is advancing rapidly. We can now use genetic testing to predict who will respond to a certain treatment. The goal is to match each patient with the best chemotherapy, targeted molecular therapy or immunotherapy for a particular tumor. Your treatments will be matched to your specific tumor type.

Rehabilitation Services

Whether you are recovering from surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, rehabilitation is an especially vital part of recovering from head and neck cancer treatment. We offer physical therapy for the jaw, neck and shoulders, occupational therapy to help restore range of motion, and speech therapy to help with all types of voice and swallowing issues.

Survivorship Care

Your team will stay with you for years, offering follow-up care through our survivorship program. After treatment ends, a dedicated nurse practitioner will provide you with a treatment summary and survivorship care plan that includes screening recommendations for secondary cancers, surveillance of cancer recurrence, and guidance about diet and exercise, among other things. 

Head & Neck Cancer Care Team

We collaborate with you to deliver world-class care in a caring, supportive environment. Your care team may include surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses, dietitians, social workers, radiologists, rehabilitation therapists, and speech and language therapists, or other physicians and professionals for your personal care plan.

Second Opinion Services

When you have a diagnosis as serious as cancer, you deserve a second opinion on your treatment options.

How to Get a Second Opinion

Clinical Trials

Early Access to the Most Promising New Therapies

In addition to standard approaches, you may qualify for a clinical trial, which gives you early access to the most promising new therapies and advanced technologies. UC San Diego Health is a national leader in designing clinical trials, expanding your treatment options and giving you access to the latest head and neck therapies.

Patient & Family Supportive Services

At UC San Diego Health, your care goes beyond treating disease. It also includes supporting you and your loved ones emotionally during your cancer journey. Most of our support services are free.

Browse All Supportive Services