If you’ve been diagnosed with a tumor in the head or neck, you’ll want a team fighting for you that is experienced at treating these uncommon cancers. At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, our care team, including medical oncologists and radiation oncologists, is skilled at delivering comprehensive, treatment for head and neck cancers that is leading-edge.
Head and neck cancers include a variety of tumors, including those in the mouth, nose, salivary glands, and throat. Even considered as a group, head and neck cancers are rare — they make up only about 3 percent, or 50,000, of all cancers diagnosed in the United States each year.
Treatment for head and neck cancers can include:
Surgery: to remove the cancerous tissue often is the first step in treatment. Depending on the location and stage of the cancer, reconstructive surgery may be required after the cancer is removed.
Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT): a leading-edge treatment that incorporates two- and three-dimensional images. Using those images, radiation oncologists are able to locate and track tumors during treatment, assuring that radiation is targeted directly to the tumor.
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): uses computer-controlled linear accelerators to deliver high-precision radiation directly to a tumor. Because the delivery is precise, higher doses of radiation can be delivered, with minimal damage to surrounding tissue.
Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS): actually not surgery, but a device that uses three-dimensional images to deliver multiple, precisely targeted beams of radiation directly to a tumor. Because the radiation is so precise and there is little damage to surrounding tissue, high doses of radiation can be administered. Often therapy is completed in a single treatment.
Chemotherapy: involves using drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapies can be administered through infusion into the bloodstream, which typically takes place in an outpatient clinic, or through oral medications, which often can be taken at home.
Targeted therapies: are drugs that precisely identify and attack cancer cells, often with little damage to non-cancerous cells.
Each patient’s treatment plan depends on factors including the exact location of the tumor, the stage of the cancer, and the patient’s age and general health.