Successfully Treating Head and Neck Cancers
There are many treatments for head and neck cancer, and your physician will help you choose the best one depending on the size of your cancer tumor, whether or not it has spread to other parts of your body, your age and your general health.
Adena’s team of cancer specialists prefers minimally invasive treatments whenever possible, allowing patients to maintain more speech and swallowing function. Our goal is to help patients emerge from treatment with the best quality of life possible.
Head and neck cancer treatments can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery or a combination of treatments:
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells and stop new ones from growing. It can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments. For instance, chemotherapy often is used alone when cancer has spread to other parts of the body. However, it may be given before surgery or radiation to make treatments more effective, or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Radiation therapy is used to treat head and neck cancer, along with chemotherapy, if surgery is not an option. Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by using powerful X-rays or other forms of radiation. It also can be used to relieve cancer symptoms and pain if cancer has spread to the bones.
Surgery can be used alone to remove tumors from the head and neck in some cases. It also may be combined with chemotherapy and radiation. After the cancer is treated, reconstructive surgery may be necessary to improve physical appearance or restore functions such as breathing and swallowing.
Consider your treatment options carefully with the help of your doctor. Be sure to discuss each treatment type and how it might affect the way you look, talk, eat or breathe.
Many head and neck cancers respond well to treatment if caught early on. The five-year relative survival rate for patients with these cancers is 57 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute. However, survival rates rise when cancer is caught at an early stage. Additionally, HPV-related head and neck cancers respond so well to treatment that doctors might recommend lower doses of chemotherapy and radiation.
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