Head and Neck Cancer Treatments

As has been said before, many cancers of the head and neck can be cured; especially if found early. Treatments may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination. While curing the cancer is the primary goal of treatment, preserving the function of the neighboring nerves, organs and tissues is also very important. When planning treatment, doctors consider how treatment might affect your quality of life, as well as how you look, talk, eat and breathe.

Head and neck cancer specialists often form a multidisciplinary team to care for each patient. This team may include radiation oncologists, surgeons, otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat doctors), plastic (reconstruction) surgeons, maxillofacial prosthodontists (specialists who perform restorative surgery in the head and neck areas), dentists, physical therapists, speech pathologists and audiologists (hearing experts).

The most common treatment options for head and neck cancer include:

  • Surgery: Specific types of surgery for head and neck cancer include excision, laser technology, lymph node dissection and reconstructive (plastic) surgery
  • Radiation therapy: High-powered X-rays, particles or radioactives seeds used to kill cancer cells.