Patient Care

Division of Head and Neck Surgery launches first of its kind tumor center

photo of multidisciplinary medical specialists

The Division of Head and Neck Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine has launched a first of its kind Head & Neck Tumor Center to provide leading world class care for the broad scope of benign and malignant tumors of the head and neck.

A joint venture between Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes Jewish Hospital and the School of Medicine, the Center will build on its current multidisciplinary practice to provide a uniquely comprehensive patient experience. Head and neck surgeon Sid Puram, MD, PhD, radiation oncologist Wade Thorstad, MD, and medical oncologist Doug Adkins, MD, will serve as co-directors of the Center.

This multi-specialty approach is uniquely poised to leverage the latest forms of medical technology and to conduct ground-breaking research that has the potential to change the face of patient care through novel treatments and advances in personalized medicine. Additional key areas of excellence, including education, outreach and prevention, will help to ensure equitable access to care.

The Center will provide sequencing of tumor genetic material to not only reveal the profiles of genetic errors that contribute to head and neck cancer but also guide individualized immunotherapy. Shortening the steps between laboratory bench and bedside will be crucial for advancing medical treatment.

photo of Sid Puram, MD, PhD
Division Chief of Head & Neck Surgery Sid Puram, MD, PhD

Another primary component of the center will be patient navigators to assist cancer patients as they navigate the complexities of multidisciplinary care. Because patients often travel great distances, even internationally, navigators will help ensure a seamless package of care across the spectrum of providers.

For Puram, patient navigators will be one key to success of the program.

“Head and neck cancer patients must often overcome alterations in appearance and can suffer sensory losses associated with taste, smell, hearing and vision,” he explained. “Swallowing and communicating can be very difficult or even impossible, and each type of loss requires specialized care. The navigators will ensure patients see every provider in the right place at the right time.”

The timeline for development of the Center is an aggressive one that includes complete development of the clinical program by 2024 and implementation of a translational research program by 2026. To accomplish this, an estimated $14 million will need to be raised.

To make an appointment at the Head & Neck Tumor Center or refer a patient, please call 1-800-600-3606 or request an appointment online.

Learn more about the Head & Neck Tumor Center»