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Head and Neck Cancer Center

COVID-19 update: We know that our patients and their families have questions related to care during this time. Please see COVID-19 Information and FAQs for Patients With Cancer for the latest updates.

Comprehensive Care for Patients with Cancers, Benign Tumors, and Other Disorders of the Head and Neck

Cynthia Zamora was left speechless after UC San Diego Health surgeons, including Dr. Joseph Califano, removed part of her tongue. Her care team created a new tongue for her, using part of her thigh muscle. With help from rehab therapists, she is walking and speaking again. For more about her journey, watch the video or read her story.

We treat head and neck disease with the most advanced treatments, including minimally invasive surgery, reconstruction and rehabilitation, proton therapy and other radiation therapy, innovative clinical trials, and targeted therapy, including immunotherapy.

Why Choose Us?

UC San Diego Health is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in San Diego County and was ranked among the nation's best in cancer care by U.S. News & World Report in 2020. And our care doesn't end with state-of-the-art surgery, innovative clinical trials, and advanced technology. We offer a wide range of programs and services to improve our patients' quality of life, including:

  • Counseling, education and support groups for patients and family members
  • Discharge planning
  • Home health care coordination
  • Professional voice care
  • Survivorship and palliative care services

Every step of the way, our patients experience compassion from people who care in a healing, supportive environment.

Team Approach

We are a team of professionals that collaborate with you and your health care providers to provide world-class care in a caring, supportive environment. Your care team may include surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses, dietitians, social workers, radiologists, and dental rehabilitation, speech and language specialists, or other physicians and professionals for your personal care plan. Meet our team.

Customized Treatment Strategy

We treat cancers and benign tumors throughout the head and neck. For more information on conditions we treat and how we customize your care, see Treatment Options.

Extraordinary Support Services, Including Smoking Cessation

Our comprehensive approach goes beyond providing you with the best available treatment options and includes access to extraordinary care and support services, including support groups and classes and nutritional counseling. Our psychosocial support team will put you in touch with resources to help manage your life and your wellness during treatment and recovery.

We also have a smoking cessation program that offers individual counseling sessions with a trained tobacco specialist to provide the right motivation and medication management to help you quit tobacco and stay smoking-free.

Survivorship Care: Supporting Lifelong Wellness

Our 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. This includes:

  • Surveillance of cancer recurrence
  • Providing screening recommendations for secondary cancers
  • Monitoring and managing late and long-term effects of cancer treatment
  • Management of symptoms
  • Providing referrals to specialists and resources
  • Coordination of care and communication between specialists and primary care providers to ensure that your needs are met
  • Guidance about diet, exercise and health promotion activities

Treatment Highlight: Proton Therapy and Brachytherapy

For patients with tumors in difficult areas, like the skull base close to the optic nerves or brain, we are pleased to offer our patients the option of proton beam radiation and brachytherapy. Dr. Parag Sanghvi is a leader in providing both proton therapy and brachytherapy for head and neck cancer patients. He creates a customized plan for each patient, integrating these therapies with surgery, immunotherapy, and standard chemotherapy. For more information, see Treatment Options.

Appointments & Referrals


La Jolla


Meet Our Specialists

Related Programs

Personalized Care

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We use genetic testing to analyze tumors and tailor treatment to individual patients. See Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy.