Meet a Specialist: Kevin S. Emerick, M.D.

Emerick resized“One of the great things about Mass. Eye and Ear is that you can find someone who specializes in a patient-specific need and really focuses on that area. We are able to provide sub-specialized care that is really unique and special,” says Kevin Emerick, M.D., of Mass. Eye and Ear’s Head and Neck Surgical Oncology Service.

Dr. Emerick treats patients with head and neck tumors, benign and cancerous, and is committed to providing the best available care for head and neck cancer patients. The treatment of head and neck cancer involves putting patients through a challenging array of treatment, more so than any other part of the body because of how it affects basic daily functions. Breathing, eating, speaking with other people, and appearance are all impacted by treatments. But by providing each patient with a compassionate, individualized approach, patients can be sure that they are walking away with the best treatment option available to them.

A graduate of Indiana University, Dr. Emerick pursued his residency in the Combined Otolaryngology Program at Harvard University. He completed fellowship training in Head and Neck Oncology and Reconstruction at the University of Michigan, where he was also a lecturer in Otolaryngology. As a current clinical instructor in laryngology and otology at Harvard Medical School, he provides continuous opportunities for mentorship, a position he has found especially gratifying. His current clinical practice allows him to focus on providing great patient care while pursuing his interests in clinical research, and yet still integrating trainee education. This is reflected in the increasing complexity of his surgical practice, the progression in quality of clinical research, and the increasing responsibility in the education of future head and neck surgeons.

Dr. Emerick has published several series and textbook chapters on different head and neck oncology topics including salivary gland malignancies and mucosal malignancies, and has also published several papers on reconstructive techniques ranging from complex calvarial bone grafts to free tissue transfer. His recent research has focused on better understanding of the impact of clinical and pathologic factors of head and neck cancers that impact on survival. This data will be used to create a prognostic calculator that will allow patients and clinicians more accurately assess their prognosis. Additionally, Dr. Emerick is actively researching and exploring the role of sentinel lymph node for high risk cutaneous malignancies.

Despite the enormity of his clinical workload, Dr. Emerick is steadfast that patient education is a priority. He explains that if cancer hasn’t metastasized in an obvious, visible place, the symptoms are easily dismissible. “A persistent one-sided ache in the mouth, a funny ear pain that doesn’t seem to be related to a sinus infection or ear infection, changes in swallowing or voice or blood in the saliva are all potential symptoms. If someone becomes aware of these symptoms they should ask their physician to take a closer look,” says Dr. Emerick.

There have been exciting, recent developments in treatment options. Dr. Emerick explains that as we learn more about the behavior of different head and neck cancers, we are becoming better able to personalize a patient’s treatment. We are better able to utilize surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy to achieve better oncologic outcomes while focusing on preserving function and quality of life. Similarly the growing experience with new techniques such as sentinel lymph node biopsy enables us to more accurately assess a patients risk of regional metastasis and further personalize and guide future treatments. Additionally we continue to expand our reconstructive techniques to allow us to improve function following major surgical procedures leading to improved function and quality of life.

Contact Dr. Emerick's office at 617-573-4084.

View Dr. Emerick's online bio for more information.

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