Head Neck Thyroid Oncology Team

Clinical Services

Stony Brook offers a comprehensive range of diagnostic, treatment, and follow-up services for patients with head, neck, and thyroid cancer, including expedited diagnosis and technologically advanced radiation, surgical, and systemic therapies. For more information: Diagnosis & Treatment.  

Highlights include:

  • Treatment options. Patient treatment plans for thyroid cancer can include advanced radiation therapy modalities using external beam, radioiodine, and Thyrogen®.  For early stage head and neck cancer, the teams may utilize single type of treatment, for example surgery, endoscopic laser, or radiation. These have the benefit of shorter hospital stays and good outcomes in terms of continued functioning. Later Stage III and some Stage IV cancers are typically treated with chemotherapy and radiation.
  • Surgical Advances for Thyroid Cancer. One of the most recent advances in the surgical treatment of thyroid cancer available to patients treated at SBUMC is minimally invasive video-assisted thyroidectomy, which uses smaller incisions than the traditional thyroidectomy and results in smaller scars and less post-operative pain.
  • Surgical Advances for Pituitary Tumors. Ghassan J. Samara, MD, in collaboration with Stony Brook neurosurgeon, Frederick Gutman, MD, performs minimally invasive endoscopic surgery to treat pituitary tumors. This leading-edge approach offers patients considerable advantages over conventional surgery, such as faster recovery, less pain, and no cosmetic problems. Instead of the large incisions or the approaches through the nose, a thin flexible endoscope—just over an eighth (⅛) of an inch in thickness—is placed through the nose to open the sphenoid sinus (the sinus in front of the pituitary gland). A computer is used to track the location of the instruments and to give the surgical team an extra margin of safety in locating and opening the sphenoid sinus. Instruments are used through both nostrils and the tumor is removed under the magnified view of the endoscope. One of the advantages of this approach is the ability to place an angled endoscope within the tumor cavity and to see areas behind ledges not always possible with the conventional approaches using a microscope. This minimally invasive surgery generally takes one to two hours—versus three to four hours for the traditional approaches. The patient generally has much less pain and discomfort. Most patients can go home in a couple of days after the operation. The endoscopic approach also avoids the use of the Mayfield head-holder (pins placed in the head to keep it still), as well as the use of x-rays and radiation during surgery, which were required in the past.
  • Surgical Options for Skull Based Tumors. Skull base tumors are tumors that form in the base of the skull where the head and neck meet and can be benign or malignant. The skull base area of the body contains many nerves, blood vessels, and glands, and damage can affect vision, hearing, speech, swallowing, and in some circumstances may be life-threatening. In the past, surgery for conditions in this area was impossible because of the complexity and risks involved. However, advances in technology as well as surgical techniques now make it possible for a multidisciplinary surgical team to perform successful surgery.
  • Speech pathology. Preventative and rehabilitative swallowing therapy services are available to improve quality of life for patients at risk or who present symptoms of dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).
  • Reconstructive surgery. The team also provides reconstruction of surgical defects after cancer removal to restore both functionality and aesthetics in the head and neck area.

Our exceptional clinical support services contribute to coordinated care. These include Nutrition ServicesPalliative Care/Survivorship & Support and Physical and Occupational Rehabilitation, Therapeutic Yoga. For more information, see Patient Support.