|Posted on August 20, 2019 at 1:50 AM|
The first step in treating head and neck cancer is to determine the stage of cancer. Stage I and II cancers are usually small and have not spread from their original location. These are usually curable. Stage III and IV cancers have usually spread to nearby lymph nodes and are large tumors. Usually, they require more complicated treatment and have a smaller chance of cure, but most are potentially curable.
The three main courses of treatment for head and neck cancers are radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy.
Surgery: Surgeons may remove the tumor and a margin of surrounding tissue. Lymph nodes in the neck and may also be removed if it is suspected that the cancer has spread.
Surgery on the head and neck areas may alter the patient’s ability to chew, talk and swallow. For this, the patient might need speech therapy as well.
Radiation therapy: This involves the use of high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. This may be done by placing radioactive materials into the body near the cancer cells.
Radiation therapy can have side effects, such as sores or irritation in the treated area, difficulty in swallowing or tasting, loss of saliva, decreased appetite.
Chemotherapy: This treatment involves the use of anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. It is more commonly used for advanced stage head and neck cancers.
Side effects include sores in the mouth, loss of appetite, vomiting, dizziness, joint pain and hair loss. Patients should consult with a physician about how to treat these side effects.