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Talks with Docs: Jason Hunt, Head and Neck Cancer Surgeon

Jason Hunt sitting in chair with blue background

Video Transcript

I found something that I’m passionate about and that I love and that I can wake up every morning and not feel like I’m going to a job, but feeling like really I have a career and something I’m passionate about.

I’m Jason Hunt. I’m one of the head and neck cancer surgeons. I’m also the disease center leader for the Head and Neck Oncology Group.

What is unique about patient care at Huntsman Cancer Institute?

It’s not just about moving patients through and having one treatment for that patient. So we have social workers that are in clinic. I also have speech and language pathologists in the head and neck clinic. We—our nurses, our medical assistants—a lot of individuals are talking to patients. And sometimes I learn things from the other staff members that I maybe didn’t pick up on from the patient.

What is the best part of working at Huntsman Cancer Institute?

The procedures that we do are fascinating procedures, but really it comes down to the patient interactions that you have. I’m fortunate enough to be able to follow patients for a long time in their life, see them grow, see their families change over time. And so you really develop relationships with patients.

Growing up, what was your dream job?

I thought I wanted to be an architect. In architecture, obviously you are designing things to build. And so in head and neck cancer, we not only take out tumors. We also are the ones doing the reconstructions. We’re having to take bones from other parts of the body to rebuild mandibles, sort of rebuild the jawbone. So there’s a little bit of correlation. I think that still gives me that creative side that architecture had.

What is your everyday superpower?

There’s something that needs to be done, to try to figure out how to take care of the problem. And I think that’s from my growing up. My father always fixed things around the house no matter, if you should be calling someone or not. So I think I picked up some of those skills along the way.

What’s something your colleagues might not know about you?

I love to fly-fish. I love to be outdoors. And when I’m out fishing, I love to get away from most everything else. So the smaller the water, the further out, the better. One of the perks of moving to Utah was easy access to fly-fishing.

What is the future of head and neck cancer?

It should be mentioned that head and neck cancers— it’s a rapidly evolving field. We are developing new drugs with the advent of immunotherapy. That’s becoming more applicable to head and neck cancer. So it’s kind of an exciting time. For a long time, we just had a few chemotherapies, radiation, and surgery. But there’s more and more drugs that are coming out.

I think we’re having more and more options over time.

Cancer touches all of us.