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Atlantic Health System Appoints National Leader in Head and Neck Cancer Surgery to Medical Director, Head & Neck Reconstructive Surgery and Transoral Robotic Surgery

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Atlantic Health System announces the appointment of otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon Tom Thomas, MD, MPH as medical director of head and neck reconstructive surgery and transoral robotic surgery for the Leonard B. Kahn Head & Neck Cancer Institute at Morristown Medical Center.  Dr. Thomas, who joins head and neck surgeon Erik Cohen, MD, brings innovation and new talent to the Institute’s growing minimally invasive surgery program.  A multidisciplinary team of specialists at the Leonard B. Kahn Head & Neck Cancer Institute evaluate and treat the entire spectrum of head and neck cancers, from early stage to the most complex advanced cancers of the throat, voice box, salivary glands, thyroid gland, mouth, lips, nose, and sinuses. 

Dr. Thomas comes to Atlantic Health System from Dana Farber Cancer Institute, a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, in Boston where he was the associate director of transoral robotic surgery (TORS).  His focus is on minimally invasive surgical techniques such as TORS and Transoral Laser Microsurgery (TLM).

“We are excited to have Dr. Thomas join our growing team of highly experienced head and neck specialists,” said Eric Whitman, MD, medical director, Atlantic Health System Cancer Care.  “With Dr. Thomas and other nationally-known experts joining our team we are the most comprehensive and highly-skilled head and neck cancer program in New Jersey, and one of the strongest in the nation. “

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Dr. Thomas has expertise in treating all head and neck cancers including but not limited to squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, various salivary gland carcinomas, thyroid and parathyroid cancers, laryngeal cancers, sinus and skull base cancers.

His minimally invasive surgical techniques, combined with a microvascular reconstructive surgical approach, helps to preserve important functions such as speech and swallowing that can be affected by head and neck cancer and its treatments. Dr. Thomas has extensive experience in Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) related head and neck cancer, especially oropharyngeal (tonsil and base of tongue) cancers. He lectures on this topic nationally and internationally.

“I am excited to be part of a nationally ranked, magnet healthcare system where the leadership is focused on patient centered care and healthcare innovation,” said Dr. Thomas.  “I am looking forward to working with our multidisciplinary head and neck cancer team and growing our head and neck cancer program as the best in the state and in the country.”

Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the U.S., with more than 60,000 new cases and over 13,000 deaths each year. Though tobacco and alcohol use can raise the risk of developing the disease, exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) poses an even greater risk. People who have had an oral HPV infection have a 50 times greater risk of developing head and neck cancer versus the general population. Currently, nearly three quarters of head and neck tumors test positive for HPV. A growing number of these newly diagnosed cases are among men in their forties and fifties.*

Dr. Thomas received his medical degree from the Howard University College of Medicine with the highest academic honor of AOA (Alpha Omega Alpha). He completed his surgical internship at The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and his otolaryngology residency at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. He then had additional fellowship training in head and neck surgical oncology, microvascular surgery and TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

After completing his fellowship, he joined the medical staff at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and was associate surgeon at Harvard Medical School - Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. ‎In addition, he has a Master of Public Health degree from John Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore. He is affiliated with Atlantic Medical Group, and is a participating provider of Atlantic Accountable Care Organization.

Dr. Thomas’s office is located at Morristown Medical Center, Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, Atlantic Center for Head & Neck Surgery, 100 Madison Avenue, First Floor, Morristown.  For more information, call 973-971-7355 or go to atlantichealth.org/headneckcancer.

Data source: U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2013 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2016. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/uscs.

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