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Norris Cotton Cancer Center
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Descriptions of Team Roles

The Head and Neck Cancer Program is committed to providing the best possible care and support for you and your family. Our interdisciplinary team consists of a group of doctors and other specialists and professionals who work together to provide the best treatment for you.

  • Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP): An ARNP has advanced training in diagnosing and managing illness. He/she can order diagnostic tests and prescribe medications. Also, the ARNP collaborates with all other members of your medical team to manage medical problems, and works to anticipate and prevent new problems. Lastly, ARNPs often serve as expert teachers, as well as researchers.
  • Clinical Coordinator: Manages the scheduling needs of patients and coordinates non-surgical interdisciplinary appointments.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): A CNS is a nurse with advanced education. He/she is very knowledgeable about diseases and their treatments. The CNS helps to coordinate care and teaches patients, families, community members, and other healthcare professionals about diseases and treatments as well as improving and maintaining health.
  • Continuing Care Manager: Meets with you and your family to assess psychosocial needs, and to provide assistance and resources in managing insurance, finances, transportation, lodging, emotional adjustment, and, if indicated, smoking cessation. The Continuing Care Manager is available to you and your family during and after treatment for support with any ongoing issues.
  • Fellow: A physician (MD or DO) who has completed general Internal Medicine training, and who chooses to get additional training in cancer medicine and blood disorders. Fellows spend two to three more years working with and learning from senior faculty physicians, as well as doing research.
  • Interventional Radiologist: Specialists in Interventional Radiology are involved in placing a feeding tube, should it be required.
  • Licensed Nursing Assistant (LNA): Helps with a patient’s daily living activities and bedside care.
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): Assists the care team with medical procedures.
  • Medical Oncologist: There are various types of cancer treatment. A Medical Oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer with chemotherapy and other medications.
  • Oral Surgeon: A dental specialist with special training in surgery of the mouth and jaw.
  • Ostomy Nurse: A specialized nurse who teaches you how to care for your gastrostomy tube (feeding tube). You may need this type of tube in your stomach if you are unable to take a sufficient amount of nutrition and fluids by mouth.
  • Otolaryngology Nurse Coordinator: A registered nurse who is the initial point of contact for calls from patients and who advises on the most appropriate solution.
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: A surgeon who specializes in diseases related to the ears, nose, and throat who has undergone advanced training in the surgical treatment of head and neck cancer.
  • Palliative Care Specialist: A doctor or nurse focused on the comfort of patients throughout their treatment. These specialists are experts in managing symptoms such as pain, but they also deal with the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of life for patients and their families.
  • Pathologist: A pathologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing diseases by examining tissue, blood, and body fluids using sophisticated laboratory techniques. When planning your treatment, it is important that the type and extent of your cancer is properly evaluated.
  • Physical Therapist: A medical professional that provides education and physical treatments such as exercise and massage to help you regain strength and range of activities after surgery and cancer treatment.
    • In-patient physical therapists see you while you are in the hospital after surgery, and focus on getting you moving again so you can return home safely.
    • Out-patient physical therapists focus on head and neck exercises and techniques, which can include massage, scar mobilization, and manual lymphatic drainage to help reduce swelling.
  • Radiation Oncologist: A doctor who specializes in the use of radiation therapies to treat cancer.
  • Radiologist: A doctor who performs and reads x-rays, CTs, MRIs, and PET scans, which are used to evaluate the extent of the cancer and make an individualized treatment plan.
  • Registered Dietitian: A specialist who helps with the management of weight loss, taste changes, nausea, dry mouth, and bowel irregularities, and who provides education and support for patients who require feeding tubes.
  • Speech Pathologist: A medical specialist who provides education and help with maintaining or regaining your ability to swallow and speak following cancer treatment.
  • Surgical Coordinator: Schedules surgery and coordinates anesthesia consults and pre-admission testing.
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