Benjamin Judson, MD, is an otolaryngologist, interim chief of Yale Medicine Otolaryngology, and chief ambulatory officer of Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven. He specializes in performing surgery to remove benign and malignant tumors of the head and neck, which can range from oral cavity tumors, to pharynx and larynx tumors, to skin cancers.
“I enjoy what I do tremendously,” says Dr. Judson, who typically works with a team of other specialists, including oncologists, radiologists and pathologists. He’s found it’s important to listen carefully to his patients’ concerns, then go over each patient’s records as a group. Taking time to communicate information to the patient is especially important, he says. “I think it makes all the difference,” he says.
The biggest change in the care of patients with head and neck cancer is minimally invasive surgery, and it is evolving on multiple fronts, Dr. Judson says. Such techniques and tools as lasers, surgical robots, and operating through the mouth to avoid incisions are approaches that can mean an easier recovery for the patient, with fewer aesthetic and functional side effects, he says. “These techniques might not be appropriate for every patient, but when they are they are a total game changer.”
The next step researchers are working on revolves around achieving a better understanding the biology of head and neck tumors, he says. This knowledge will help doctors to tailor treatment for each patient more precisely, maximizing their ability to cure the disease while minimizing side effects.
An associate professor of otolaryngology at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Judson has research interests in investigating outcomes and quality in head and neck cancer therapy. He is also involved in supporting a biorepository of head and neck cancers to support continued research that would ultimately improve care at Yale and other institutions.