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. Often, treating these cancers requires a multidisciplinary team. The UNM Cancer Center team includes medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists and radiologists who combine century-old techniques with cutting edge technology. They offer the latest treatments through clinical trials to give you the most choices for your care.

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


Meet the Head & Neck Cancers Team

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.


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.

estimated new cases in
New Mexico for 2018

American Cancer Society, 2017


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.


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