Patient Diagnosis &
Treatment Options

As a patient, you are our first priority. Our friendly team work together to support your journey — from your first appointment through to the end of your treatment journey. 

Below, we outline what your journey ahead could look like and how we’ll support you along the way. You’ll learn everything from deciding on your treatment to what you need to know and do to prepare for surgery. First though, take a deep breath — you’ve got this.


“When your doctor tells you “you have a lump in your neck”, your mind goes to a pretty uncertain place … At MercyAscot, I knew I was working with people that understood. They mapped out my journey so that I didn’t have all that uncertainty, which for me, was really, really important.”
​– Rauly Wilson

Deciding on your treatment

Treatment options for head and neck cancer can vary depending on the type, size, and location of the tumour. You’ll meet with your surgeon to discuss the best possible treatment which can include a combination of surgery, radiotherapy, and/or chemotherapy. 

To ensure you get the best treatment, our team of specialists at the MercyAscot Head and Neck Service, will ensure you receive the best possible treatment and care. Your individual treatment will be discussed and personalised by our team of specialists, including:

  • Surgeons
  • Oral Specialists
  • Radiologists
  • Pathologists
  • Radiation and Medical Oncologists
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Dietitian

Before your treatment

You and your support person will be invited to a meeting with our clinical nurse specialist and dietitian. They’ll be able to answer any questions about the treatment. 

At this joint consult you’ll hear about:

  • The treatment plan
  • What it involves
  • What to expect

We’ll also offer a tour of the ward — with an opportunity to meet with someone who has been through a similar experience.

If you’re having surgery, you may receive a phone call from your anaesthetist. They’ll talk you through their part in the procedure. If you’re having free flap surgery, you’ll be admitted to the hospital the evening before your surgery.  

You will be informed if advanced payment is required. See Insurance below.

If you’re coming from out of Auckland, we can provide information about local accommodation. Please ask the MercyAscot Head and Neck Service team if you need travel planning assistance.

On the day of treatment

During your stay you will be visited daily by your surgeon, nurse specialist, and dietitian. They will review your progress and work with the ward staff to ensure your safe departure from the hospital. This may also include referrals to the wider team for lymphadema physio (for tissue swelling in the body's lymphatic system), speech and swallow therapy, or psychology input.

After treatment

You’ll be contacted to arrange ongoing follow-up appointments with your surgeon, nurse specialist, and dietitian. This is so we can make sure any wounds heal well, your nutritional needs are met, and you continue to recover. You may also have other appointments to ensure we optimise your recovery.

Approximately two weeks after surgery, you will receive your pathology results  (results of tests that help determine your diagnosis and treatment). Your surgeon will discuss these results with you and let you know if any further treatment is required. You may need to be referred onto radiation or medical oncology services. Both your surgeon and your nurse specialist will give you information about these options if needed.


If you’re insured, we’ll ask you to contact your insurance company to verify your medical coverage. We will provide you with an estimate at the beginning of your health journey so you have an understanding of what the costs might be. These costs may change depending on the type, size, location, and growth of your cancer. The MercyAscot Head and Neck Service team are happy to work with you to apply for approval from your insurer. 

If you are insured with Southern Cross, you may be eligible for our outcomes-based healthcare pilot programme. Please talk to our friendly practice managers to confirm your eligibility for this programme.

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