The multidisciplinary team (MDT)

This is a team of health professionals who work together to decide on the best treatment and care for you. It can include: 

  • specialist head and neck surgeons
  • specialists in drug treatment
  • specialists in radiotherapy
  • restorative dental specialists
  • a head and neck clinical nurse specialist
  • speech and language therapists
  • dietitians

Specialist head and neck surgeon

Head and neck surgeons may include: 

  • ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons
  • oral and maxillofacial surgeons
  • plastic surgeons

ENT surgeon 

These are qualified specialist surgeons trained in treating conditions of the ear, nose, throat and neck. They can also be called otolaryngologists. 

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons 

They are doctors trained both as doctors and dentists. These surgeons remove the cancer and also rebuild the tissue lost due to the cancer or surgery. 

Plastic surgeons

Sometimes a plastic surgeon may rebuild the area where the cancer was removed. This is called reconstruction. Plastic surgery is common after surgery to remove a cancer of the head and neck.

Radiotherapy and drug treatment specialist (oncologists)

They are specialist doctors and plan your treatment using:

  • chemotherapy
  • targeted cancer drugs 
  • radiotherapy 

Restorative dental specialist

A restorative dentist is a specialist in replacing lost tissues and teeth.

They assess your teeth before you have treatment. And may recommend that you have some teeth removed if they are decaying or loose. This is so they don't cause problems later on. 

The restorative dentist also gives you advice on how to look after your mouth and teeth during and after treatment. You may also see a dental hygienist to help keep your mouth and teeth clean. And reduce the risk of infection.

The restorative dentist will also help your recovery. They may suggest using false teeth or a replacement part (prosthesis). They can help to make your facial appearance as normal as possible after treatment.   

Head and neck clinical nurse specialist

A clinical nurse specialist is a qualified nurse who has knowledge of head and neck cancers. They help to organise the care between doctors and other health professionals. They support you during and after treatment and make sure you have the information you need to understand the treatment. 

A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is often your key worker. 

Dietitian

Dietitians play an essential role in helping you with problems you may have with your diet and eating. You usually met them before your treatment and regularly throughout. 

Speech and language therapist

You may meet a speech and language therapist. They usually visit you before your operation or radiotherapy. They explain possible problems you may have with speech and swallowing, and how to cope with them.

Other health professionals

You may also need help and support from other health specialists, for example, physiotherapists Open a glossary item and social workers Open a glossary item.

Last reviewed: 
27 Jul 2021
Next review due: 
27 Jul 2024
  • Oropharyngeal cancer: United Kingdom National Multidisciplinary Guidelines

    H Mehanna and others

    The Journal of Laryngology and Otology, 2016. Volume 130, supplement S2, pages S90-S96

  • Cancer of the upper aerodigestive tract:assessment and management in people aged 16 and over
    The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2016, updated 2018

  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity, larynx, oropharynx and hypopharynx: EHNS- ESMO-ESTRO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    J. P. Machiels and others
    Annals of Oncology, 2020. Volume 31, Issue 11, Pages 1462-1475

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