Head & Neck Cancer

Cancers of the mouth and throat are treatable. In fact, for the vast majority of patients, the chances for successful treatment are greater than 85 percent. Our physicians develop treatment techniques, direct a coordinated effort of specialists and organize hospital care – all with the dual aims of curing disease and reducing the sometimes-difficult side effects of treatment.

We respond to head and neck cancers differently based on their location: voice box (larynx), tonsil/tongue base (oropharynx) and paranasal sinuses, skull base, nose, neck and oral cavity. This distinction is increasingly significant since, for example, oropharynx cancers are now very often found to result from the HPV virus. Cancers that are “HPV positive” have a much better prognosis.

A broad, multi-disciplinary team, called a Tumor Board, determines the most effective treatment recommendations. Dr. Akervall serves as director for Tumor Boards at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. and at Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti, Mich. Participating specialists include not only the many doctors who collaborate in this care, but also a spectrum of nursing, speech and language and psychology providers.

Over several years, Tumor Boards have become a place for continued discussion and presentation of fresh ideas – all with your welfare at the center of attention. Over time, practitioners have not only become aware of each other’s goals and concerns, but have even begun to learn and participate in each other’s fields, creating a truly transdisciplinary approach.

If you may have head or neck cancer, you could be seen and evaluated in this unique, collaborative setting. Seeing you together, specialists can more quickly develop a common understanding of your needs, the disease and the best multidisciplinary plan for therapy in a single visit with all of your key providers.

The choice of treatment is one that is made together, in close consultation between the you and your physicians. Based on the location and size of the primary lesion, and the presence of metastatic disease, treatment options are considered.

Surgery and/or radiation are the mainstays of treatment. Chemotherapy is often used as an adjunct to radiation and is not as toxic as that used in other sorts of cancers.

Doctor Akervall is on the forefront of the pursuit of surgical techniques that are less invasive and better tolerated. Dr. Akervall established a national meeting of physicians focused on reducing morbidity (injury) in the treatment of head and neck cancer and has written about minimally invasive surgery in the throat.

Additionally, the ability to reconstruct and rehabilitate defects resulting from larger cancers is a focus within our practice. We offer cutting-edge, complex head and neck and craniofacial reconstruction with an emphasis on reducing surgical side effects and guiding patients through the surgery process with care and compassion.