Head and Neck Cancer

Treatment for various Stages of Head and Neck Cancer

There are several methods available in modern medicine for the treatment of Head and Neck Cancer. Usually, two or more of these are done in progression to ensure that the tumor cells are completely destroyed. The time the treatments take, the dosages of drugs and radiation vary from patient to patient; based on the stages of head and neck cancer, the tumor has progressed to. The major treatments for Head and Neck Cancer and their possible side effects are explained below.

  • Surgery: The tissues that contain the tumor are removed surgically along with some of the healthy surrounding tissues to stop the growth of the tumor any further. Surgery may not be enough to remove the tumor completely, in which case it is followed by Radiation therapy and Chemotherapy.
  • Radiation therapy: This is a technique in which X-rays or other high energy electromagnetic radiations are irradiated on to the affected area to destroy the tumor. In some cases, radiosensitizers, which are drugs that can make cancerous cells more sensitive to radiation, are also used to make the killing of tumors more effective.
  • Chemotherapy: This method uses powerful drugs to destroy and inhibit the growth of cancer cells by keeping them from dividing further. These drugs may be injected into the bloodstream through a vein or muscle, which can then go to the cancerous part to destroy those cells. This is called systemic Chemotherapy. Alternatively, the drugs may be administered directly on to the affected area, and this process is called regional Chemotherapy. The extent of the side effects depend on the dosage used as well as on the individual.
  • Immunotherapy: This is a relatively new treatment method in which the patient’s own immune system is used and boosted to fight against cancer. Proteins produced by the human body (which can also be synthesized in the laboratory) that act as inhibitors to cancerous growths are used to direct and activate the body’s natural defense mechanisms against cancer.