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Ask an Expert: 2014 Current Practices in Head & Neck Cancers
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 12 Noon (Eastern Time)

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Brian Burkey, MD

  • Head & Neck Institute
  • Cleveland Clinic

Head and neck cancer refers to several types of cancers that affect the head and neck areas. These cancers account for approximately 3 to 5 percent of all cancers in the United States. Head and neck cancer is more common in men and in people over age 50. Nearly 65,000 patients are diagnosed with cancer of the head and neck in the United States each year.

These cancers can affect:
• nasal passages
• sinuses
• mouth
• throat
• larynx (voice box)
• swallowing passages
• ears
• salivary glands
• and thyroid gland

Head and neck cancer can be hard to diagnose, because symptoms are often mild and can mimic less serious conditions such as a cold or sore throat. Fortunately, almost three-quarters of all head and neck cancers can be easily detected during an examination. Other diagnostic tests may include lab tests, endoscopy, head and neck imaging (with X-rays, CAT scans, MRIs or PET scans) and biopsy.

Options for treating cancers of the head and neck may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. One of these therapies, or a combination of them, may be part of a person’s treatment plan.

Head and neck cancers are very treatable if caught early, and are easily preventable. The most common causes of head and neck cancer are tobacco and alcohol use.

About the Speaker

Brian B. Burkey MD FACS is currently Vice-chairman and Section Head of the Section of Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology at the Cleveland Clinic Head and Neck Institute. He also serves as Medical Director of the Center for Consumer Health Information within the Education Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, which is a group of 30 people dedicated to the production of multimedia patient health information for all medical needs of patients and their families. Dr. Burkey came to the Cleveland Clinic after almost twenty years at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, rising to Professor of Otolaryngology and Vice-chairman within that department.

Dr. Burkey finished undergraduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University, before obtaining his medical degree at the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine in 1986. He completed otolaryngology residency training at the University Of Michigan Department Of Otolaryngology and a fellowship in microvascular and facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Ohio State University, before launching his career at Vanderbilt. He has been an American Board of Otolaryngology diplomate since 1992, and his practice has an emphasis on head and neck oncologic and microvascular reconstructive surgery.

Dr. Burkey specializes in the treatment of: head and neck cancer, laryngeal cancer, oral cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, salivary gland cancer, thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer and head and neck reconstruction.

If you would like to make an appointment with Dr. Burkey or any of our other specialists in the Head & Neck Institute, please call 800.223.2273 x45800 or request an appointment online by visiting www.clevelandclinic.org/appointments

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