Oropharynx Cancer Clinic in Minnesota Overview

Mayo Clinic head and neck cancer surgeons consult using a 3D model to help plan a surgery.

People who come to Mayo Clinic with throat (oropharyngeal) cancer are treated by a multidisciplinary team of experts. This cancer affects the back of the mouth, where the base of the tongue, the soft palate and the throat meet.

At the Oropharynx Cancer Clinic at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, you receive comprehensive care for the diagnosis and treatment of your condition, with access to dietary and nutritional counseling, leading-edge cancer treatment, reconstructive surgery, follow-up care, rehabilitation, and palliative care services.

Advanced treatment options

A Mayo Clinic throat cancer exam

At the Oropharynx Cancer Clinic, you meet with doctors who use the latest technology and techniques to treat throat cancer. Treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, reconstructive surgery, rehabilitation or a combination of these approaches.

  • Surgery. The type of surgery depends on the size, type, location and depth of the tumor. Nearby lymph nodes may need to be removed and examined to determine how far the cancer has spread. Mayo Clinic head and neck surgeons are skilled at using minimally invasive surgery techniques, including transoral robotic surgery.
  • Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams of radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiation may be used alone, or it may be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that might remain. Radiation oncologists at Mayo Clinic use advanced treatment technologies, including intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and proton therapy, to target cancer cells and spare nearby healthy tissue.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. For people with throat cancer, chemotherapy is often used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that might remain. Sometimes it's combined with radiation therapy.

    At Mayo Clinic, experienced medical oncologists select the chemotherapy drugs that are most likely to be effective against your cancer cells. Your care team helps you manage side effects of treatment.

  • Reconstructive surgery. Depending on the size, location and spread of the cancer, some people may need reconstructive surgery to restore mouth function. Doctors at Mayo Clinic are skilled in using the latest techniques in reconstructive surgery to restore your ability to speak and eat after surgery.
  • Rehabilitation. Rehabilitation specialists in speech therapy, swallowing therapy, dietetics, physical therapy and occupational therapy help with rehabilitation that may be necessary after surgery or radiation therapy. The Nicotine Dependence Center at Mayo Clinic can help if you're trying to stop using tobacco.

Your treatment team

Doctors specializing in otolaryngology, oncology and radiation oncology work together to individualize your treatment plan.

Our ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists work with medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and rehabilitation medicine specialists to provide comprehensive care. Other professionals are included as needed. Your Mayo Clinic doctors also coordinate access to the patient education center and palliative care services.

At the Oropharynx Cancer Clinic, a multidisciplinary team of experts works together so that you get exactly the care you need. And the team's collaborative approach to care means efficient care. In many cases, people are evaluated and have surgery scheduled the same week.

Throat cancer specialists on your care team also are committed to doing research that improves treatment and reduces side effects.

See physician staff

Sept. 15, 2021