UF Health MedMatters

COVID-19 and Head and Neck Oncology

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a plethora of unique challenges that have forced otolaryngologists as well as head and neck surgeons to adapt the diagnosis and management of head and neck cancer patients. Through her research, UF Health physician explores the influence of COVID-19 on the practice of head and neck oncology and provides evidence-based management recommendations for head and neck cancer during public health emergencies.

More than two years after the pandemic, head and neck oncologists across the globe are just beginning to see how COVID-19 has affected time to diagnosis and treatment, the role of telemedicine, patient and health care worker safety protocols, ethical considerations and the management of head and neck cancer.

Doctor checking a patient's neck

The research of UF Health physician Deepa Danan, M.D., MBA, MHA, F.A.C.S., evaluated results from studies conducted throughout the U.S. and abroad that investigated whether delays in diagnostics and treatments of head and neck cancers could be associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Her research showed that while there is some data variability depending on the location and timing of the study, patients present with cancer at more advanced stages as a result of delays in seeking care due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dana also highlighted how the use of telemedicine, preoperative screening and COVID-19 testing were critical to keeping head and neck cancer patients and their health care providers safe through risk reduction.

Included in the article is a visual algorithm to provide surgeons with evidenced-based guidelines on how to approach patient care with limited resources, as well as a visual framework for prioritizing head and neck surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UF Health physicians and faculty in the University of Florida Department of Otolaryngology are engaged in continuous research focusing on the prevention and treatment of head and neck cancer. UF specialists not only treat hundreds of patients, they also bring together the best minds in medicine, genetics, dentistry, pharmacology and other health sciences to search for answers to this disease.

Danan’s full article titled, “COVID-19 and Head and Neck Oncology” can be accessed via the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine site.

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University of Florida Health Shands Hospital has been recognized among the nation’s best hospitals in seven adult medical specialties. Overall, UF Health Shands Hospital was recognized as one of the best hospitals in Florida. In addition to being ranked among the nation’s top 50 hospitals in seven specialties, UF Health Shands Hospital also was listed as “high performing” in seven specialties, including abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, colon cancer surgery, COPD, heart failure, lung cancer surgery, neurology & neurosurgery and orthopaedics.