Hospitals seek ways to improve outcome and reduce costs for head and neck cancers

Multidisciplinary approaches and minimally invasive techniques are helping hospitals to improving patient outcomes and reduce costs for patients with head and neck cancers, according to an article in HealthLeaders Media.  Although head and neck cancers account for only 3% to 5% of total cancer diagnoses nationwide, they can be devastating as they can impact speech, swallowing and facial features.   

The article states that hospitals across the nation have developed techniques to improve patient outcomes:

  • The University of Chicago Medical Center has employed innovative chemotherapy and radiation treatments that have resulted in improved outcomes. About 61% of patients with stage IV head and neck cancer survive five years after treatment under the multidisciplinary approach, compared to the national average of 38%
  • St. Vincent Hospital has reduced hospital stay to under 5 days, compared to weeks for traditional surgery, by using the da Vinci robotic surgical system, which avoids the use of the traditional, physically disfiguring surgery of opening the face and jawbone.
  • Mount Sinai Medical Center has reduced cost and wait time for treatment for head and neck cancer patients, from an average of 31 days in 1997 to six days last year, through a partnership with ENT & Allergy Associates group (ENTA).  ENTA patients can be evaluated by a Mount Sinai physician within 24 hours of referral.  Medical records are shared between the facilities, eliminating duplicate tests.   

(Sources: HealthLeaders Media,, January 8, 2011; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, January 19, 2011)