Head & Neck Oncology

Course Description:


This comprehensive one-day seminar is designed to address the clinical management of patients with, and survivors of, Head and Neck Cancer.  We will, interactive educational sessions and lab activities to obtain competency in the treatment of HNL (head and neck lymphedema), fibrosis, an understanding of the impact of difficulty with swallowing (dysphagia and will include interdisciplinary protocols.

The after effects of Head and Neck Cancer treatment is confining and have a huge impact on comfort and patient function that can lead to debilitation if not aggressively and quickly treated. The fibrosis, structural changes, dysphagia, speech changes, lymphedema, soft tissue impairment and psychosocial implications of disfigurement are huge challenges that are often under-addressed. These impairments can be appropriately treated by all allied health disciplines with specific techniques. A multi-disciplinary approach is optimal for treating this population.  This course will provide the anatomy and physiology of the head and neck, education in the clinical treatment of head and neck cancer and the treatment options to allow effective practical application of the therapeutic techniques that patients are often in desperate need of.   

This course will allow participants to create and administer an appropriate treatment plan for patients with or survivors of head and neck cancer.  A broad view will allow for the appropriate multi-disciplinary involvement of all disciplines to restore as close to the prior level of function as possible, in the physical, mental, social and psychological realms.


  • Explain the basic anatomy and physiology of the head and neck structurally and in light of the lymphatic, fascial and venous systems.
  • Identify the most common risk factors of head and neck cancer, the epidemic shift in incidence since 2010, treatment options, side effects, and their functional impacts.
  • Students will learn to identify indications and contraindications for therapeutic intervention and precautions when dealing with the special treatment challenges in working with this population. Demonstrate general comfort with soft tissue mobilization for restrictions around the larynx and pharynx
  • Understand what lymphedema is and how it is caused.  Learn manual lymphatic techniques to treat head and neck edema within each participant’s scope of practice.  
  • Learn to differentiate between normal post-operative edema and lymphedema involving the head and neck by obtaining knowledge of the signs and symptoms of the latter.
  • Describe the effects of head and neck cancer pathology and treatment on the lymphatic, integumentary, digestive system, and on communication, and psychosocial health.  
  • Learn to instruct an appropriate exercise program to address edema, soft tissue restriction, and ROM.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in basic techniques to reduce edema of the head and neck in order to improve communication and swallowing. These include:
    • Manual Lymph Drainage techniques, including intra-oral
    • Compression strategies for the head and neck
    • Exercise, including intra-oral work
    • Kinesio-taping of the head and neck
  • Be able to name surgical and radiation therapy effects that lead to fibrosis, limited ROM, auditory congestion, edema and scarring of the head and neck.
  • Interpret appropriate scales to assess fibrosis, edema, and scarring of the head and neck
  • Be able to instruct patient in edema risk reduction precautions and in the tools to manage self-care
  • Understand the unique treatment challenges associated with patients with lymphedema of the head and neck discussing nutritional needs an artificial voice.
  • Demonstrate basic proficiency in assessment and development of a basic treatment plan for a patient with head and neck edema with manual and compressive techniques when appropriate.
  • Evaluate real case studies for a patient with head and neck lymphedema and perform an appropriate treatment session for a like patient.
  • Appreciate the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach in the diagnosis and management of patients with head and neck cancers and subsequent lymphedema.

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Applicable to Certified Lymphedema and Wound Therapist & Certified Wound Therapist course offerings.

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