Diagnostic and Treatment Options
Many head and neck cancers can be treated and cured, especially if they are found early. Treatment options vary depending on the type, location, and extent of the cancer, as well as a person’s age and general health. Treatment plans often include a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
At the Lifespan Cancer Institute, our facilities are equipped with the most advanced technology, so we can offer a full range of innovative treatment options. Treatment plans also include any necessary rehabilitation to help you return to the best possible physical and sensory function.
To provide complete care from diagnosis to recovery, we offer supportive programs such as nutrition consulting, survivorship programs, support groups, and counseling. Nurse navigators work in conjunction with treating physicians to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
How Are Head and Neck Cancers Treated?
Care plans are individualized for each patient. Treatment may include:
- Surgery – Surgery is the primary treatment for most head and neck cancers. Innovative techniques allow surgeons to remove tumors while preserving nearby structures and optimal function.
- Minimally invasive surgery – Minimally invasive surgical techniques are used when possible to remove tumors while preserving optimal sensory and physical functioning. Minimally invasive surgery results in less pain for patients, quicker recovery times, and reduced infection risk. Minimally invasive surgical options may include:
- Robotic surgery
- Endoscopic laser surgery
- Radiation therapy – Radiation therapy can be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy, and may follow surgery. Radiation therapy may be used to treat patients who would experience significant side effects from surgery, who have inoperable cancers, or who have a poor prognosis after surgery. Radiation therapies that patients may receive include:
- External-beam radiation therapy
- Proton therapy
- Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is used to treat head and neck cancers that are difficult to reach surgically or that cannot be cured by surgery alone. It can be a treatment option for patients for whom surgery may result in significant loss of function or in disability, such as loss of the larynx or need for a permanent stoma.
- Reconstruction – Reconstruction of bones and other structures of the head and neck is often possible after removing a tumor. Replacing skin and reconnecting blood vessels and nerves can help preserve your normal function and appearance.