Cancer Rehabilitation

Clinical Practice (assessment, diagnosis, treatment, knowledge translation/EBP, implementation science, program development)

Lifestyle Medicine


Interdisciplinary Approach to Head and Neck Cancer Care to Improve Outcomes (452381)

Sunday, September 30
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Location: Topaz

Past, present and future experience in how to integrate multiple disciplines in the care of the head and neck cancer population to improve patient care.

Learning Objectives:

Carolina Gutierrez

Assistant Professor
UT Health at Houston

Dr. Gutierrez is an assistant professor in the department of Physical medicine and Rehabilitation and the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at the Mc Govern Medical School, UTHealth Science Center at Houston.
She completed her medical school in Bogota-Colombia at Universidad el Bosque, followed by an internship with the New York College of Medicine in New York, then she underwent a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at East Carolina University, Pitt County Memorial Hospital and completed a Cancer Rehabilitation fellowship at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center.
She is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Dr. Gutierrez realizes the importance of getting to know her patients and their personal goals. She has a special interest in addressing the unique rehabilitation needs of those whose lives have been affected by cancer. She takes a team approach to optimize her patients’ outcomes from diagnosis through treatment and into survivorship.


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Ron J. Karni

Associate Professor
UT Health at Houston

Ron J. Karni, MD serves as Chief of the Division of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery. He obtained his medical degree at Baylor College of Medicine and then completed his residency training at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. Dr. Karni has authored publications on the novel treatment of occult primary oropharyngeal cancer (the unknown primary) and practical tools to integrate evidence-based methods into the daily practice of medicine. His current research focus includes de-escalation treatment strategies for throat cancer, morphoproteomic analysis of head and neck cancer, and HPV-related malignancies of the head and neck. Dr. Karni is co-Principal Investigator on a CPRIT grant studying new treatments for head and neck lymphedema using near-infrared fluorescent technology. Dr. Karni is board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.

Dr. Karni’s practice focuses on the management of benign and malignant tumors of the head and neck, including throat cancer, oral cancer, larynx cancer, locally advanced skin cancer, salivary gland tumors, and thyroid/parathyroid disease. He performs transoral robotic surgery for tumors of the throat, a modern approach to minimizing the side effects of treatment for throat cancer . Dr. Karni also performs ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration biopsy for thyroid nodules and minimally-invasive thyroid and parathyroid surgery.


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Heather M. Smith

Senior Speech Language Pathologist - III
Texas Institute for Rehabilitation and Research - Memorial Hermann

Heather is a Senior Speech Language Pathologist at the Texas Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) – Memorial Hermann. She currently provides treatment and education in the outpatient setting to people who have head and neck cancer, progressive neurological disorders, and other acquired neurogenic disorders. Heather began her career 14 years ago at The University of Tennessee Medical Center and she has remained dedicated to providing quality care to adults across the continuum of care. Heather is excited to enhance and improve the delivery of interdisciplinary care and treatment to those affected by head and neck cancer and their related treatments. She enjoys collaborating with an interdisciplinary team that includes Dr. Ron J. Karni, MD, Chief of the Division of Head and Neck, Surgical Oncology, in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at UT Physicians in Houston, TX and with Carolina Gutierrez, MD, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with an emphasis on Head and Neck Oncology at TIRR Memorial Hermann and UT Physicians.


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Interdisciplinary Approach to Head and Neck Cancer Care to Improve Outcomes (452381)


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