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University of California San Francisco

Conditions We Treat

Head and Neck Cancer

UCSF offers comprehensive treatment for cancers of the head and neck. We understand the nature of this disease and the special issues faced by head and neck cancer patients.

At your first consultation visit, you will meet with your radiation oncologist. This appointment will take approximately one to two hours. A comprehensive medical examination and medical history will be taken. At that appointment, your physician may additionally perform an examination using a fiberoptic scope to examine the area inside of your nasal passages to your throat. This is done using a small amount of a local numbing medication so that it is more comfortable. Most patients tolerate this very well. You will also meet other members of your radiation oncology team such as your resident physician or the Head and Neck Nurse, Joyce Tang, RN, BSN.

LINAC machine for Head and Neck treatments
Head and Neck conference
Head and Neck team meeting

Before you start your treatment, it is important to know if you will need to be seen in our Oral Medicine Clinic. Good oral hygiene is important before you start radiation treatments. This appointment is like going to a specialized dentist. Depending on where your radiation treatment will be directed, sometimes the oral medicine physician will prescribe fluoride treatments (mouth rinses) or advise of other care needed (like dental cleaning, extraction of decayed teeth, etc.). The most common side effects of head and neck radiation treatment include dry mouth (xerostomia) and skin changes (redness or tanning) in the treatment area.

Helpful Links

UCSF Head & Neck Cancer

Redefining Possible