Head and neck

This unit is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. It is recognised worldwide for its strength in diagnosing and treating cancers of the head and neck.

The Royal Marsden offers a comprehensive specialist service for the diagnosis, treatment and care of  head and neck cancer at its hospitals in Chelsea, London, and Sutton, Surrey. Head and neck cancers include tumours of the mouth, jaw, throat and neck.

We provide a comprehensive treatment service, mainly for patients from West London, but a large part of our practice is treating difficult and complex cases referred by other specialists from all over the UK and abroad.

Diagnosis, tests and investigations

The head and neck diagnostic clinic ensures the rapid investigation of unexplained cervical lymphadenopathy, abnormal red or white patches in the mouth, persistent oral ulceration or swelling, voice change and dysphagia. Patients can immediately undergo diagnostic tests including biopsy under local anaesthesia, upper aero-digestive tract endoscopy, blood tests, ultrasound and needle aspiration cytology.


Head and neck surgery is usually performed at The Royal Marsden’s hospital in Chelsea, where the associated specialist ward also coordinates care for patients with tracheostomies and other surgical problems. Chemotherapy for head and neck cancers is usually undertaken at our Chelsea hospital, with radiotherapy practised at either Chelsea or Sutton.

  • Diagnosis, tests and investigations: primary assessment and diagnosis; specialist review and second opinion; staging and investigation
  • Cancer genetics
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy, including brachytherapy
  • Surgery, including ENT surgery, maxillofacial surgery, laser surgery and minimally invasive techniques
  • Critical care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Palliative and supportive care
  • Clinical trials