Important information

A person with a complex head and neck cancer should be referred to a specialist who is a member of a relevant multidisciplinary team and practices at a specialist centre.

All specialists listed on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.

Specialist centres

The management of complex head and neck cancer requires a team of health care professionals with experience in complex head and neck cancer (including surgery) and the availability of adequate supportive care following surgery.

Even if surgery does not seem likely at the time of referral, early involvement of a multidisciplinary team is recommended to ensure optimal assessment, care, and outcomes.

Specialist centres for complex head and neck cancers are: 

Some patients may need to travel out of area to be treated at a specialist centre. The local health district will have an arrangement in place for this. For more detailed information about specialist centres, see Optimising cancer care on the Cancer Institute NSW website.


What tests are needed?

Common tests used to diagnose a head and neck cancer include:

  • physical examination
  • imaging - x-ray, CT scan, PET scan and/or MRI scan
  • blood tests
  • endoscopy
  • biopsy.


What treatment options are there?

Treatment for a head and neck cancer may include one or more of the following:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • targeted therapy
  • radiotherapy.

Treatment for head and neck cancer is specialised and complex, and patients may need to travel to have parts of their treatment. The local health district will have an arrangement in place for this.


How common is head and neck cancer in NSW?

Head and neck cancer was diagnosed in:

  • 2015
    1258 people in NSW
  • 2014
    1202 people in NSW
  • 2013
    1205 people in NSW

Data source: Cancer statistics NSW portal (sourced from Institute Data Warehouse, Cancer Institute NSW. Available at:

Last updated: 21 February 2019.

Better cancer care

Better cancer care

Every person with cancer should have their care overseen by a specialist on a multidisciplinary team.

Head and neck cancer pathway

The nationally recognised optimal care pathway for head and neck cancer management in Australia.
Quick reference guide
Optimal care pathway