Dr. Jatin P. Shah, of New York, conceived the establishment of an international body bringing together all specialists involved in the care of patients with Head and Neck Cancer worldwide.  He presented this thought to the Executive Council of the Society of Head and Neck Surgeons, (SHNS) at its Retreat in the summer of 1985 and sought support from the SHNS.  The proposal was received enthusiastically by the SHNS, and he was encouraged to proceed   By August of 1986, leaders of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies worldwide were contacted to explore the feasibility of establishment of an International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies with the purpose of “establishing channels of communication to enhance exchange of information and improving knowledge as well as exploring new directions in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of patients with head and neck cancer”. This proposal was enthusiastically received by leaders in the field from various parts of the world, culminating in the formation of a steering committee which met on May 1, 1987, at the Grosvenor House, in London. Representatives of sixteen Head and Neck Organizations from North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia were present. The steering committee drafted the constitution and bylaws of the Federation which was subsequently ratified by the Governing Council which consisted of one member from each member organization in the Federation. Dr. Jatin Shah was elected Secretary General by unanimous vote of the Governing Council.

Initial programs of the Federation consisted of enlarging the membership of the Federation with compilation of a newsletter, development of an international directory of members of component member societies and organization of World Congresses.Over the years the Federation has grown with a membership of 43 Head and Neck oncologic organizations, representing 65 countries, from every part of the world. Annual Newsletters were published initially, and these were eventually transitioned into an active and current Web site. (www.ifhnos.org) The Federation is able to reach over 5000 specialists, located in nearly every corner of the world, providing care to patients with head and neck cancer through membership of its component societies. The Federation has successfully attained its initial goal and mission of establishing channels of communication to foster camaraderie amongst professionals involved in the care of patients with head and neck cancer.

Quadrennial World congresses of the Federation have been held since 1998, starting with the first World Congress in Mumbai, India in December 1997 under the leadership of Dr. Ashok Mehta. The second World Congress was held in December 2002 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil under the leadership of Dr. Geraldo Matos D’Sa. The third World Congress was held in Prague, Czech Republic in June 2006 with Dr. Jan Betka as Congress President. The fourth World Congress was held in Seoul, Korea with Dr. Kwang Hyun Kim serving as President. The fifth World Congress will celebrate the Centennial of the Head and Neck Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York in July of 2014. Future congresses of the IFHNOS are planned for Buenos Aires in 2018, and Europe in 2022.

An innovative Global Continuing Medical Education program, “The IFHNOS World Tour”, was introduced in 2008, offering a two and half day conference conducted by World leaders in the Head and Neck specialties, over five weeks. This program was offered in eleven countries around the world, beginning with London, Barcelona, Rome, Athens, Warsaw, Moscow, Mumbai, Beijing, Bangkok, Buenos Aires, and ending in Bogota. This highly successful education program was repeated in October 2010, with conferences in, Frankfurt, Antalya, St. Petersburg, Bangalore, Manila, Shanghai and Mexico City. The World Tour 2012 program was offered in Kiev, Amsterdam, Cairo, Ahmedabad, Guangzhou, Jakarta, Brisbane and Sao Paulo. This program will be repeated every two years, in the month of October, at different destinations worldwide.

Future programs of the Federation include standardization of training of specialists in the field of Surgical Oncology, radiation oncology, medical oncology and other allied specialties in the field of head and neck cancer. This will lead to development of IFHNOS sponsored International Head and Neck Fellowships in various parts of the world offered by International and National leaders in several regions. In addition a web based self education program, is planned for the very near future.



1996 - 2006  Jatin P. Shah ( USA )

2006 – 2010 Jean Louis LeFebvre ( France )

2010 – 2014 William Wei ( Hong Kong )

2014 - 2018 Ashok R. Shaha ( USA )


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