Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at Cooper: Growing Resources for a Growing Need

In response to regional demand, the Division of Otolaryngology/ Head and Neck Surgery at Cooper is undergoing tremendous growth and transformation into a comprehensive academic program.

“We have a faculty complement of 13 people, including seven physician- surgeons as well as three advanced- practice nurses and three doctorate-level audiologists,” says Nadir Ahmad, MD, Head of Cooper’s Division of Otolaryngology/ Head and Neck Surgery and Director of the Head and Neck Cancer Center, part of the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper. “And we’re still growing, with plans to add three more fellowship-trained surgeons, a speech language pathologist and a PhD researcher in 2014.”

Dr. Ahman is also spearheading development of an otolargyngology residency program at Cooper.

This growth is driven by the burgeoning health needs of the region.

“As a fully developed academic ear, nose and throat program, we provide a comprehensive range of services,” Dr. A hmad explains. “This not only includes routine services such as tonsillectomy, ear tube placement in children, septoplasty, sinus surgery, facial plastic surgery and sleep apnea surgery, but also more complex head and neck surgery using innovative, exceptionally precise and minimally invasive surgical techniques.”

These techniques include transoral robotic surgery (TORS) for selected head and neck malignancies including those of the tongue base, larynx, throat and tonsil as well as for sleep apnea surgery; transoral laser microsurgery ( TOLM), also used for tumors of the throat and larynx; and endoscopic endonasal skull- base surgery, used to resect tumors at the base of the skull, repair cerebrospinal fluid leaks, and provide access for removal of tumors involving the brain and pituitary gland. Patients who are candidates for these minimally invasive approaches typically experience faster recovery, less pain and no scars compared to traditional open surgery.

Such advanced surgical expertise is required in the face of an exponential increase in the incidence of head and neck cancers.

“The volume of head and neck cancer cases has markedly increased in the last decade,” Dr. Ahmad says. “A great deal of the exponential growth is due to the increase in human papilloma virus (HPV )-associated cancers of the tongue base and tonsils. Thyroid cancer is also on the rise.”

Cooper’s already strong head-and- neck oncologic and reconstructive abilities are advancing to an entirely new level with the the partnership between Cooper University Health Care and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“MD Anderson has treatment protocols we’ve adopted, and our clinical trial offerings have increased significantly; and we benefit from having their people as consultants,” Dr. Ahmad says. “It has greatly enhanced the quality of our program.”

He notes that MD Anderson also has other novel ways to deliver outstanding patient care that Cooper will be adopting.

For example, while the Head and Neck Cancer Program already has its own patient navigator – a service unique to Cooper in this region – a dedicated nurse practitioner also is being hired.

“The combination of a dedicated nurse navigator and a nurse practitioner devoted to head and neck cancer patients will have tremendous value to patients in terms of the care and education they will receive,” Dr. Ahmad says. “There will be someone in the patient encounter who’s hands-on with the patient from the outset, then the navigator ushers them into the system, coordinating appointments, education, counseling and any other supportive care services needed. And the new MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper will provide an amazing venue for patients to obtain all their care under one roof in a more timely, efficient and stress- free manner.

“We provide comprehensive, innovative medical and surgical treatment in this field, and we’re keen on developing strong collaborative links with referring physicians,” he adds. “We’re available and accessible to every patient that needs referral.”

For information about upcoming Head and Neck Cancer CME programs:
visit CooperHealth.edu/CME
call 856.382.6480
or email CME@cooperhealth.edu.

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