Head Neck Cancer/Survivorship

S+S, Spring 2024, p. 7

The Head Neck Cancer (HNC)/Survivorship program saw a lot of growth during the Campaign, especially in the services it now provides to patients. PNC Charitable trusts has sponsored many projects related to patient navigation, basic science research for early detection of cancers, and the study of cancer pain in HNC patients. The Jack Buncher Foundation has also provided support to the Department of Otolaryngology for the Survivorship Clinic and projects in clinical research.

This funding support allowed two patient navigators joined the head and neck surgical oncology team. They follow each case of head and neck cancer from diagnosis through treatment and into survivorship.

Three HNC surgeons joined the Department in 2023: Drs. Kevin Contrera, Jessica Maxwell, and Matthew Spector. Dr. Spector is the new Division Chief of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology and Microvascular Reconstructive Surgery. He is among the most experienced and innovative head and neck reconstructive surgeons in the United States, having previously co-directed the head and neck cancer program at the University of Michigan. Dr. Spector also leads the Advanced Head and Neck Surgery Fellowship and has already elevated the reconstructive surgery program to new heights. Dr. Maxwell is a highly experienced head and neck surgeon who will serve as the Otolaryngology Chief at the Pittsburgh VA as well as Associate Residency Program Director. She will focus her efforts on expanding otolaryngology-head and neck surgery care for veterans and building a head and neck cancer research program at the VA. Dr. Contrera joined this past fall after completing a two-year fellowship in head and neck surgical oncology and reconstruction at MD Anderson Cancer Center. In addition to complex surgery, Dr. Contrera will devote time to developing his career as a surgeon-scientist with mentorship from Dr. Ferris and others at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

Additionally, the Department is developing a three-step program to address disparities for HNC patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities.