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  The Institute for Head & Neck & Thyroid Cancer

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Support Services

Services that support cancer treatment, recovery and rehabilitation
Successful recovery from cancer requires a team approach. Your team involves you, your family and friends, our physicians-and Mount Sinai Beth Israel's experts in cancer support services, including our:

  • Oncology nutritionist
  • Psychiatric support services
  • Pain and palliative care expert
  • Integrative medicine practitioner
  • Speech and swallowing therapists
  • Patient advocates

Cancer support services
With offices conveniently located under one roof in the Phillips Ambulatory Care Center (PACC), our Cancer Support Services team will be available throughout your treatment. Because we consider your physical, emotional and spiritual health integral to the healing process, we provide a wide variety of services to help you and your family manage the challenges of treatment.

Nutritional counseling tailored to your needs
Some of the most advanced therapies for head and neck cancer may combine surgery, radiation and chemotherapy-treatments that can dramatically alter chewing, swallowing, talking, taste, smell and sensation in your mouth and throat.

Since good nutrition and adequate caloric intake is crucial to your healing, your physician may recommend that you be fitted with a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG)-a direct-to-stomach nutritional tube-before you begin treatment. Our oncology nutritionist will work one-on-one with you to:

  • Evaluate and update your nutritional needs throughout treatment
  • Tailor a dietary plan that fits your lifestyle, food preferences and therapeutic needs
  • Create flexible nutritional options as taste, sensation and ability to swallow change after surgery or during radiation therapy
  • Provide the practical and emotional support you need to transition to and from PEG feeding before and after treatment

Pain and palliative care
Control of pain and discomfort is an important part of your care. At Mount Sinai Beth Israel, our pain experts are well recognized for successful oncologic palliative care. Among the innovative solutions for any potential pain, discomfort and other medical issues:

  • Thorough and gentle mouth cleansing performed at every visit to treat infections, moisten your mouth and ease dryness and burning
  • Effective mouth sprays to be used daily to counter dry mouth and discomfort
  • Long-acting liquid pain medications that may be taken orally or by PEG
  • Skin patch and intravenous pain medication if your mouth is too sore to swallow
  • Customized medications to ease fullness, bloating, gassiness and constipation

Integrative medicine
Cancer treatment is stressful and often brings up emotional issues that can seem overwhelming. Our integrative medicine practitioner teaches natural self-regulation techniques that ease anxiety and pain, help you relax, and build a sense of self-empowerment. Our integrative practitioner offers:

  • Progressive relaxation
  • Deep, abdominal breathing
  • Guided imagery
  • Therapeutic touch
  • Reiki
  • Biofeedback

Speech and swallowing therapy
Our speech and swallowing therapists are specially trained to treat swallowing and vocal problems associated with head and neck cancer treatment. We also offer therapy for chronic hoarseness, vocal cord polyps and nodules, vocal cord abuse problems, evaluation of gastro-esophageal reflux disease and cognitive disability with speech problems.

Customized therapy after your head and neck treatment
During and after head and neck cancer treatment, many people develop difficulty with swallowing and speech. Our speech and swallowing therapists work with head and neck cancer patients to and bring a comprehensive understanding of the anatomical changes in mouth and throat tissues caused by surgery and radiation therapy. Among the swallowing services available at Mount Sinai Beth Israel:

  • Clinical swallowing assessment
  • Modified Barium Swallow (MBS) for expert, objective evaluation
  • Shaker and other swallowing exercises
  • Nutritional support to help you transition back to swallowing and chewing

The newest multidisciplinary speech and swallowing therapies
Our head and neck and maxillofacial speech and swallowing therapists at The Institute for Head and Neck and Thyroid Cancer have worked exclusively with head and neck cancer patients to develop a number of new speech and swallowing therapies:

  • Alaryngeal speech rehabilitation with focus on tracheoesophageal puncture-a form of speech therapy that requires a high level of expertise
  • Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) performed jointly with our otolaryngologist for immediate clinical evaluation of swallowing malfunction not detectable by MBS
  • Integrated cross-disciplinary care with our otolaryngologist/surgeon for joint evaluation of swallowing, tracheal esophageal prosthesis (TEP), voice and speech issues
  • Post-glossectomy speech evaluation
  • Prosthetic speech therapy including joint evaluation with our prosthodontists and development of palatal obdurators, reshaping devices, lifts and other speech-enhancing dental prosthetics

Patient advocates
Our patient advocates at PACC provide confidential guidance on pre-and post-operative concerns, treatment options, complementary therapies, family dynamics of cancer, medical insurance and financial issues, educational, therapeutic and spiritual literature and online resources. Our patient advocates can also connect you to supportive services that include:

  • Stress management programs
  • Family counseling
  • Caregiver information
  • Community and private health services
  • Lodging and travel information

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