Head and Neck Surgeon Returns to University Hospitals

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Akina Tamaki, MD, completed residency training in otolaryngology at UH Cleveland Medical Center

Akina Tamaki, MD, recently joined University Hospitals as a head and neck surgeon. Read more about your new colleague in this Q&A:

Akina Tamaki, MD Akina Tamaki, MD

Q: You did your otolaryngology residency at UH Cleveland Medical Center followed by a fellowship in head and neck oncology at Ohio State. What about UH made you want to come back to begin your professional career here? Is there a particular experience from your residency that stands out?

 A: I received amazing training at UH Cleveland Medical Center and incredible fellowship training at the Ohio State University. I have been fortunate in my education and training to have the most incredible teachers and mentors. I chose to come back to UH for multiple reasons. I cannot imagine a more supportive, talented and collegial group of surgeons as my colleagues in the Division of Head and Neck Surgery. It has been an honor to call my former mentors, who inspired me to pursue head and neck surgery, my colleagues. Beyond the division, we have a strong department with leadership that truly cares about your professional success and happiness. In addition, among all of the many strengths of our department, our department prides ourselves on diversity, including the large amount of female faculty.

Q: Please describe your practice. What are the conditions you see most often, and what are the latest innovative approaches to treating them?

A: I specialize in head and neck oncology and microvascular reconstruction. As such, a large part of my practice involves caring for head and neck cancer patients. Treating these cancers can involve transoral robotic surgery and use of microvascular free tissue transfers to reconstruct large defects. I also treat various other head and neck ailments, including thyroid and parathyroid disease, skin cancers, paragangliomas and salivary gland diseases. I have found that the patients who present to UH Cleveland Medical Center can present with significantly advanced disease compared to other parts of the country. These cancers can certainly be challenging to treat, but our team has had significant experience treating these patients.

Q: What are some trends in head and neck oncology that would be of interest to your fellow UH physicians?

A: The rates of human papillomavirus-mediated head and neck cancer is on a steady rise, and this is an area of robust research.

Q: Where at UH do you perform surgery and see patients?

A: I am primarily at UH Seidman Cancer Center and at UH Cleveland Medical Center. I also am part- time at MetroHealth Medical Center.

Q: Are you engaged in any research?

A: Yes, I have been very active in research and have been involved in various projects ranging from clinical outcomes, medical education to quality improvement. I am particularly interested in research involving improving outcomes of complex head and neck reconstruction and the quality of care for head and neck cancer patients.

Q: Patient experience is such a high priority at UH. What are some specific steps you take as a physician to make sure your patients are having the best possible experience at UH?

A: When patients come to me, especially with a new head and neck cancer diagnosis, it can be devastating and incredibly stressful for the patient and his/her family. I like to have a thorough conversation with patients and families to make sure each patient has an understanding about his/her condition and what treatment would entail. We are lucky at UH Cleveland Medical Center and UH Seidman Cancer Center to have a team experienced in taking care of head and neck cancer patients. In addition to us, we have speech therapists, nutritionists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologist, nurses and ancillary staff all dedicated to the care of these cancer patients. We are fortunate to have this well-established infrastructure for our patients.

For more information about Dr. Tamaki or to refer a patient, please call 216-844-7547.

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