Head and neck cancer: an expert overview

Written by: Professor Stuart Winter
Edited by: Conor Lynch

In this article below, Professor Stuart Winter, a highly regarded consultant ENT surgeon, tells us whether or not human papillomavirus can cause head and neck cancer, and informs us with regards to the most effective treatment options for head and neck cancer

Does head and neck cancer affect speech and swallowing?

Head and neck cancer can impact on speech and swallowing due to the position of the tumour. For example, a voice box cancer (larynx) will often present with a hoarse voice. If the tumour involves the mechanism or swallowing pathway, then that will be affected. 


What are the best treatment options for head and neck cancer patients with advanced stage disease?

Often, advanced treatment needs at least two and sometime three forms of treatment. This might involve surgery, which is typically followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy, or radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy


Can HPV (human papillomavirus) cause head and neck cancer?

HPV infection is one of the main risk factors when it comes to developing head and neck cancer. 


How does smoking and alcohol consumption increase the risk of developing head and neck cancer?

We know that smoking in particular is a significant risk factor for developing head and neck cancer, while alcohol doesn't increase the risk as much. 


What are some promising new therapies and clinical trials for head and neck cancer patients?

There have been a number of recent developments. Immunotherapy is currently one of the most exciting areas. To date, it has been shown to be most effective in patients with palliative or advanced cancer compared to conventional therapies. Its use is being tested in all stages of the head and neck cancer pathway and will be an exciting area over the next few years.


To schedule in an appointment with Professor Stuart Winter, simply visit his Top Doctors profile today. 

By Professor Stuart Winter
Otolaryngology / ENT

Professor Stuart Winter is an experienced consultant ear, nose & throat (ENT) surgeon with a specialist interest in tumours of the head and neck. Based across the major private hospitals in Oxford, Mr Winter runs a full ENT practice for both adults and children. He leads a specialist swallowing clinic at the Churchill Hospital. He holds, and has held a number of positions nationally, including with NICE, ENT-UK, and is a member of the national Clinical Reference Group (CRG) for complex Head and Neck Cancer.

Originally qualifying from the University of Bristol, Mr Winter completed his surgical training in the south west of England, where he developed an early interest in head and neck cancer. In order to further develop advanced techniques for head and neck cancer and sinus surgery, he spent a year working at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in South Australia. During this time he received a number of awards, including the Lionel College Memorial Fellowship and the Ethicon Travelling Fellowship.

As Consultant Ear, Nose & Throat Surgeon at Oxford University Hospitals, Mr Winter leads an active research program into head and neck cancer, and to date has over 70 publications in peer-reviewed journals. He is regularly invited to speak at national and international conferences and he teaches on a number of local and national courses.

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