Treatment of Head and Neck Cancer

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Treatment depends on the location of the tumor and how extensive it is. If the cancer is localized to the head and neck area, treatment may involve

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy

Treatment often requires a multi-disciplinary team of doctors and health care providers from various specialties including:

  • Head and neck surgeon
  • Radiation Oncologist
  • Medical Oncologist
  • Plastic surgeon for reconstruction
  • Maxillofacial prosthodontist
  • Dentists or oral oncologists – who specialize in taking care of patients with head and neck cancer
  • Speech and Swallowing therapist
  • Audiologist
  • Nutrition specialist
  • Mind-Body Medicine

If head and neck cancer has spread outside the head and neck area, usually the primary mode of treatment is with medication treatment such as chemotherapy or targeted therapy.  Common chemotherapy agents used to treat head and neck cancer include 5-fluorouracil (5FU), cisplatin or carboplatin, docetaxel, paclitaxel.  A commonly used targeted or biologic treatment is cetuximab, an antibody that targets EGFR, a protein that is overexpressed in many head and neck cancers.  In addition, many clinical trials are currently available, evaluating new types of drugs or combinations of drugs.