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Head and Neck Cancers

The Head and Neck team care for patients with cancers of the mouth, throat, voicebox, nose and nasal sinuses, ear, salivary glands and thyroid gland. They are a large team consisting of surgeons, oncologists, consultant nurse & clinical nurse specialists, cancer support worker, dieticians, speech and language therapists, radiologists, pathologists, consultant radiographer and therapy radiographers.

Contact us:

If you have any questions or concerns at any time, you can contact the specialist nurses on 01772 522229 or 07415 229 769 

A voicemail service is available for non-urgent and out of hours messages and the team will aim to return your call within one working day. You can also email us on  

What to expect at your first appointment
Diagnostic Tests
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your Cancer Nurse Specialists
Meet the Team

Understanding why you have been referred to hospital

Your GP has asked for you to have an urgent appointment or test because you have displayed symptoms which may be caused by cancer
Whilst it is unlikely that you have cancer it is very important that you are seen by a specialist as soon as possible.
The suspected cancer faster diagnosis system has been introduced across the country so that patients with symptoms that could be caused by cancer are seen by a specialist quickly. 
Most patients referred under this system turned out not to be diagnosed with cancer, but early diagnosis can increase the success rate of many cancer treatments.


What happens once you have been referred

Your GP will send your referral to Lancashire Teaching Hospitals.
If your GP gives you a blood test performed as part of your referral you will need to arrange to have a blood test through your GP surgery before you attend your first hospital appointment. These blood tests are required as soon as possible for diagnostics to be arranged at the hospital.
If you are unable to access a blood clinic within 24 to 48 hours, then please use the urgent walk-in clinic at Royal Preston Hospital outpatient department.
Opening hours are 08.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday


What to expect at your first appointmentHead and neck cancer pic 1

You will be seen by an Oral & Maxillo-Facial Surgeon, ENT Surgeon or senior Nurse such as a Clinical Nurse Specialist or Nurse Consultant.  You will be asked a series of questions so that the health professional can understand your problem and then you will be examined, which may include examination of your throat using a camera.  In some clinics you may be referred for an ultrasound scan and receive the results later the same day.  At the end of the consultation a plan will be agreed with you, which could include
1. Treatment
2. Referral for further tests such as a scan
3. Listed for an operation such as biopsies


Diagnostic Tests

Following your first consultation you are likely to require specialist investigations to assist in your diagnosis, these may include:



Further Tests

The specialist team may ask for further tests to help with your diagnosis. These may include:


Waiting for Results

Your scans are normally done prior to any biopsies and your consultant will arrange for the results to be discussed in the Head & Neck MDT (Multidisciplinary Team) meeting. Your consultant will see you with the results at the next available clinic following the MDT meeting.

Head and neck cancers.

Cancers of the mouth, throat, voicebox, nose and nasal sinuses, and ear are typically squamous cell carcinomas – so called because they appear to be square shaped when viewed under the microscope.  

Cancers of the parotid gland or submandibular gland are salivary cancers.  

Cancers of the thyroid gland are either papillary or medullary cancers. 

In exceptional circumstances it may not be possible to identify the type of thyroid cancer – these are known as anaplastic cancers


Receiving a diagnosis

You are strongly encouraged to bring someone with you to support you when attending for your biopsy results / diagnosis.  A team of Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialists are also available to support you from your diagnosis onwards.  You will be given their contact details and written information, including details of a Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) which will help to clarify the next steps in your care.


Treatment Options

Treatment for head and neck, or thyroid cancer is individualised. Each patient’s unique circumstances are taken into account when discussing and agreeing treatment, and therefore two patients with the same cancer at the same stage may receive different treatments based on that individual assessment. Treatment options include:

  • Chemotherapy is usually used as a treatment to ‘boost’ the effect of radiotherapy. It is usually given weekly and takes several hours to administer. In some circumstances chemotherapy is given as a first line treatment to assess if the cancer will respond to chemotherapy. In this circumstance two or three treatments are given before a scan is undertaken to assess response. Chemotherapy can also be given when the cancer recurs as a palliative treatment
  • Radiotherapy is a form of x-ray treatment. A mask will be made that fits your head and neck precisely so that the treatment can be accurately targeted. It is vitally important to keep your weight stable so that the mask fits and treatment can be targeted accurately to the cancer. Radiotherapy is usually given daily Monday to Friday including Bank Holidays (except Christmas Day). Treatments typically last for 20 to 30 days. Effects of radiotherapy can continue for several months after treatment.
  • Surgery can range from day case surgery for small cancers of the voicebox to 10-15 hour operations to remove the cancer and reconstruct the area with tissue from a different part of the body requiring a 2 to 3 week stay in hospital.
  • Immunotherapy is a new treatment that encourages your own immune system to eradicate the cancer. It is given every three weeks and can be given for up to 2 years if the cancer is responding to the treatment.
  • Radio-iodine is a treatment that can be used for thyroid cancers following surgery. It has to be given in very specialist centres and patients in Lancashire & South Cumbria attend the Christie hospital.
  • Or a combination of the above

Your Cancer Treatment Plan

Patient Contribution to Case Notes (PCCN)

The PCCN is your voice to help us improve our services. You will receive the booklet at pre-op and are encouraged to start filling it in before you come into hospital

It is a document for our patients and families to use which encourages the conversation to be around what is important and what matters to you.

The booklet gives you space to write about what you want to know, about your progress and what questions you might have that you want to discuss.

See our Patient Contribution to Case Notes page.


Additional support for patients and carers

Additional support for patients and carers is offered from various organisations:

Cancer Help Preston: an independent charity dedicated to providing non-medical support for patients and carers.

Preston & Chorley Laryngectomy Association: an independent patient support group run by patients for patients and carers focussed on supporting patients and their family following laryngectomy.

The Swallows: an independent charity focussed on supporting patients following head and neck cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust: an independent charity supporting patients and their carers with thyroid cancer

Our Head and Neck Cancer Specialist Nurses (CNS)

Our Macmillan Head & Neck CNS team are here to offer advice and support to you and your family following a cancer diagnosis of the head & neck, or thyroid cancer. They have expert knowledge and experience in head & neck, and thyroid cancer and may sometimes be referred to as your key worker. The team also includes a very experienced Macmillan Cancer Support Worker who can also offer advice and support to patients and carers.


Get to know your multidisciplinary cancer care team

If you have been told you have cancer or are under investigations for cancer, your care and treatment will be overseen by a multidisciplinary team of specialist healthcare professionals also known as an MDT.

Cancer care can be complicated and there can be a number of health care professionals involved in your diagnosis, treatment and ongoing care. As an MDT they work together and meet regularly reducing the time needed to reach a diagnosis and plan the treatment they feel is best for you.

Head & Neck Cancer requires a large multidisciplinary team of specialists in their own field of practice that work closely together to care for you and your family throughout your cancer journey

Multidisciplinary Cancer Team MDT

Please use the drop downs below to find out who makes up our amazing MDT Head and Neck Team here at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals:


Your Multidisciplinary Cancer Care Team


Head and Neck Cancer Patient Information Leaflets



Get in touch

Chorley and South Ribble Hospital

Preston Road



01257 261222

Royal Preston Hospital

Sharoe Green Lane




01772 716565

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