Head and Neck Cancers

The Head and Neck Cancers Team focuses on cancers in the neck and up. These cancers can be particularly complex to treat because of the many different kinds of tissues in this area and the many functions these organs carry out. 

To make an appointment,
call us at 505-272-4946.

Tumors in the throat — including the tongue, tonsils and larynx — can be difficult to
get to using traditional approaches.

Trans-Oral Robotic Surgery, or TORS for short, allows me and the other head and neck surgeons here at UNM to work through the mouth on throat tumors.

This minimally-invasive method helps us get people back to their normal lives more quickly.

– Andrew Cowan, MD, PhD

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Meet the Head & Neck Cancers Team

Emrullah Yilmaz, MD

Emrullah Yilmaz, MD, Team Leader

Medical Oncologists

Use chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy to treat cancer. They work with the entire team to manage clinical trials.

Surgical Oncologists

Physically remove cancer tumors from the delicate tissues connecting the ears, nose and throat. Our team established the first trans-oral robotic surgery (TORS) program in New Mexico. People eligible for TORS procedures are more likely to recover faster and retain their ability to swallow.

Smoking Cessation Program

Smoking reduces the effects of cancer treatment, so to help lung cancer patients quit, we’ve integrated a smoking cessation program into our clinic. Patients choosing to join the program will receive guidance and support to quit smoking.

Our program follows national guidelines that are based on scientifically-validated studies and follows patients as they kick a habit they may have had for decades. The program adapts to each patient’s needs and can incorporate lifestyle changes, patches or medication.

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Radiation Oncologists

Kill cancer cells with radiation. They use stereotactic body radiation and intensity modulated radiation therapy, among other techniques, to manage how much radiation reaches tumor cells and to reduce radiation that reaches normal cells.

650
estimated new cases in
New Mexico for 2019

Source: American Cancer Society

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Oncology Radiologists

Interpret many different kinds of images of the head and neck. They not only find cancer but also help the team understand its extent and impact.

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Lori Lelii, CNP

Lori Lelii, CNP

Darrah Image

Gloria Darrah, CNP

Rebuck Image

Lorraine Rebuck, CNP

Midlevel Providers

Under the guidance of a physician, they may give medications or injections, take medical histories, perform medical exams or perform certain medical procedures.

When they told me [that I had cancer] it didn’t really hit me. I had three operations, seven radiation [therapy sessions] and chemo.
At UNM, I had the best doctors you could ever ask for.

– Charlie G., tonsil cancer patient