What You Need to Know

Even after appropriate treatment, patients may experience recurrence of their cancer either at the original site of the tumor, their lymph nodes, or in another part of their body such as the lungs. Providers at the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center have the expertise to treat recurrent head and neck cancer. If you have questions or want to make an appointment, call (713) 798-5900.

Prevention and Risk Factors

Smoking cessation is the most important way to prevent recurrent head and neck cancer. Continued smoking after cancer treatment has been shown to lead to worse survival and quality-of-life outcomes.

Additional risk factors include aggressive tumor biology and genetic predisposition.


Symptoms of recurrent head and neck cancer are very similar to those of the original tumor. Continued or worsening pain, new neck mass, or unexplained weight loss can be signs that a cancer may have returned. Regular visits and open discussions of your symptoms after therapy, with your cancer treatment team, are important to help us identify and diagnose recurrent cancer early and effectively.


Surgery with appropriate reconstruction, radiation or re-irradiation and systemic therapy are all options available for the treatment of recurrent head and neck cancer at the Cancer Center. Our surgeons are experts at complex procedures including tumor removal and microvascular free tissue transfer reconstruction. Our radiation oncologists have expertise in intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), and re-irradiation of selected tumors. And, our medical oncologists participate a wide spectrum of cutting-edge clinical trials and have experience with the latest chemotherapeutic agents, immunotherapy and targeted therapy.