Head & Neck Cancer Treatment Options

At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we have several conveniently located centers throughout Phoenix and Scottsdale with cancer experts who are skilled at providing advanced radiation treatments for all types of cancer, including head and neck cancers. These types of cancers usually start in the squamous cells that line the damp surfaces inside the mouth, nose and throat. These squamous cell cancers are often referred to as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. Sometimes head and neck cancers can start in the salivary glands, but that is uncommon. Besides starting in the squamous cells, head and neck cancers are also labeled by the area of the head or neck in which they begin. They include cancers of the larynx (voice box), throat, lips, mouth, nose, and salivary glands.

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 65,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with head and neck cancer this year and these cancers are more than twice as common among men as they are among women. People more than 50-years-old are more likely to be diagnosed with a head or neck cancer. People who use tobacco, use alcohol heavily or are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) are more at risk.

Treatment Options in Phoenix For Head & Neck Cancer

At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we treat every person as an individual, with individual circumstances and desires. We take into account the exact location of the tumor, the cancer’s stage or progress, your age and general health, and your wishes. Treatment for head and neck cancer can include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Often, a combination of these treatments is used for optimum results. The safeguarding of important organs is an important part of treating head and neck cancers. With this approach, doctors use radiation and sometimes chemotherapy to shrink or completely eliminate the tumor, avoiding the need for surgery. The team of cancer experts at Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, will work with your medical team to develop the best options for your individual case. Besides surgery, treatment options for head & neck cancer include:

  • Chemotherapy.

    Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer drugs to shrink or kill the cancerous cells. It enters the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells anywhere in the body. Because normal cells are also affected, there are significant side effects. Chemotherapy is often used in conjunction with radiation therapy.

  • External Beam Radiation Therapy.

    The specialists at your Phoenix and Scottsdale cancer centers have a variety of options when it comes to advanced, non-surgical, pain-free radiation therapies. Using Tomotherapy, CyberKnife or TrueBeam technologies, our professionals will develop a plan for the specific type and location of your of head & neck cancer. However, because of its ability to target specific tumors with extreme accuracy, the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System is often used for head and neck cancer treatment. The CyberKnife system combines a flexible, robotic arm with a high-tech imaging system to precisely target and kill your cancerous cells. The system can actually follow any movement of your tumor even as you breathe and adjust the radiation beams accordingly. This is especially important as you try to avoid any negative impact on surrounding tissue and organs in the head and neck. Avoiding healthy cells can also lessen any side effects. Some radiation treatments are given in a series of daily sessions for several weeks. But the CyberKnife system lasts less than an hour for only one to five days. The CyberKnife system utilizes a flexible, comfortable mask to steady your head, rather than a metal frame bolted to a table like other systems. Radiation therapy may be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy or biologic therapy.

    • 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) – combines multiple radiation treatment fields to deliver precise doses of radiation to the affected area. Tailoring each of the radiation beams to focus on the tumor delivers a high dose of radiation to the tumor and avoids nearby healthy tissue.
    • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) – is the most recent advance in the delivery of radiation. IMRT improves on 3D-CRT by modifying the intensity of the radiation within each of the radiation beams. This allows more precise adjustment of radiation doses to the tissues within the target area.
  • Internal Radiation Therapy (Brachytherapy).

    Internal radiation therapy involves inserting radioactive material into a tumor or surrounding tissue. For head and neck cancers, brachytherapy is often used with external beam radiation therapy, but it may be used alone. During brachytherapy, your radiation oncologist places thin, hollow, plastic tubes into the tumor and surrounding tissue. These tubes are loaded with tiny radioactive seeds that remain in place for a short time to kill the cancer. The seeds and the tubes are then removed. With low-dose-rate brachytherapy, the seeds will be left in place for one to three days. For high-dose-rate brachytherapy, a single radioactive seed stops at various positions along the tubes for short times to deliver an equivalent dose. The exact type of brachytherapy and lengths of time the seeds are in place will depend on your cancer and treatment plan.

Find Out Your Options – Call Today!

If you’ve been diagnosed with any type of head & neck cancer, it’s important that you find out all of the treatment options available to you. Give our medical oncologists a call at any of our convenient Phoenix, Scottsdale or Glendale offices and we will explain the options for your type and stage of head or neck cancer and answer all of your questions. Or, reach out to us using our online appointment form and we will welcome you to one of our comfortable offices. Our goal is to take the best cancer care of you possible. We look forward to your call.

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