Presidential Address
April 2013

The Care of the Head and Neck Cancer Patient Is a Team Sport

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2013;139(4):337-339. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2013.256

The theme for my presidential year has been to highlight the value and importance of the multidisciplinary team in providing compassionate, quality, and patient- and family-centered care for the head and neck cancer patient. The head and neck cancer surgeon, along with colleagues in medical and radiation oncology, are what we typically and historically have considered the primary members of the team. Upon further reflection, however, we must all recognize and acknowledge the value and efforts afforded our patients by a diverse cadre of health care professionals, without whom we could not possibly provide the care we collectively aspire to deliver. These team members include nurses, physician assistants, speech pathologists, dentists, maxillofacial prosthodontists, social workers, radiologists, anesthesiologists, nutritionists, medical assistants, and administrative assistants. Discovery of the novel treatment paradigms that offer improvement in tumor control and patient outcome requires the efforts of scientists and clinical trialists. Results of experiments and clinical trials require the expertise of biostatisticians. The new age of genomics, proteomics, and next-generation sequencing has created a new discipline, that of the bioinformatician. Thus, there are many critically important members of the multidisciplinary team that provide care for the head and neck cancer patient and define the future of this care.

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