One of Only Three Head and Neck Cancer Programs in Southwest Florida

Published: Feb 17, 2023

By Tampa General Hospital

The Tampa General Hospital (TGH) Head & Neck Oncology program was founded five years ago as a partnership between the USF Department of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery and the TGH Cancer Institute. TGH remains one of only three academic centers in the region with a head and neck cancer program that offers comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, post-treatment monitoring and functional rehabilitation programs. Since its founding, TGH’s fellowship-trained surgeons have successfully completed nearly 5,000 surgical procedures and manage 400 to 500 new head and neck cancer patients annually.

With this level of expertise, TGH and USF Health have become a referral center for virtually any head and neck cancer patient — including those with oral cavity, larynx, sinus and HPV-related cancers, as well as thyroid and parathyroid diseases. TGH also offers an advanced skin cancer program, offering multiple treatment modalities for aggressive cases.

The expert head and neck surgeons at TGH are skilled diagnosticians employing comprehensive examination and in-office ultrasonography to either confirm or make a cancer diagnosis at initial patient consultations.


A multidisciplinary tumor board is key to the program’s success. A group of medical professionals, including experts in otolaryngology, head & neck surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, pathology and radiology, along with speech therapists, physical therapists, dietitians, social workers and nurses, meets to discuss every case. This approach ensures that every patient receives multiple “second opinions” within the same center and helps create the best, most personalized treatment plan.


TGH and USF Health’s microvascular surgery pro- gram offers complex head and neck reconstructive procedures to enhance outcomes, and also to assist patients with esophageal perforations, complex airway disorders, skull base pathology, complex head and neck trauma and facial nerve paralysis. Tampa General’s microvascular program incorporates cutting-edge techniques such as 3D modeling, allowing specialists to create custom treatment plans, models and implants.

The program is in the upper quartile in the country and has a high flap surgery success rate of 97% to 98%. TGH microvascular surgeons have performed more than 350 free flap surgeries since the program’s inception in 2017. A unique perioperative care plan, based on the enhanced recovery after anesthesia (ERAS©) model, helps reduce or eliminate a patient’s ICU stay and expedites post-surgical recovery. TGH surgeons perform two to three of these procedures weekly, making these often long and complex procedures routine at the center.


TGH was one of the first hospitals in Florida to offer transoral robotic surgery using the da Vinci SP single-port robotic surgical system. Earlier versions of the da Vinci robotic system that had three or four arms were often hard to fit in a patient’s mouth, making transoral surgery difficult. The single-port system has one solid barrel with mechanized arms that extend from it, allowing surgeons to easily snake the arm to specific spots in the throat.

This pioneering, minimally invasive procedure allows surgeons to target hard-to-reach tumors with precision. By transitioning to the single-port system, the program has expanded to effectively treat selected head and neck cancer patients on a regular basis.


Surgeons in the head and neck oncology program routinely collaborate with the skull base and rhinology program, facial plastic surgeons, salivary gland institute and voice and swallowing centers at TGH and USF Health. These collaborations not only allow surgeons to increase the types of cancers they treat, but also provide cancer patients with an array of treat- ments generally used for those with benign disorders.

The growing synergy between USF Health and the TGH Cancer Institute has broadened the research and academic mission of the program. The first inter- ventional head and neck cancer clinical trial opened at TGH this year. For the next five years, researchers will continue to expand on these successes to afford patients access to the most cutting-edge, advanced head and neck cancer care available.



Learn more about Tampa General Hospital's ENT Institute and see how we define medicine.