Head and Neck Cancer
Head and neck cancer can be located in the following areas:
- Lip and oral cavity
- Salivary gland
- Pharynx (including base of tongue, soft palate, and uvula)
- Nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses
The majority of patients diagnosed with head and neck cancers are men. In fact twice as many patients are men than women. This may be a reflection of some of the associated risks that can increase the chance of head and neck cancer developing. Risks factors include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Sun exposure / UV radiation
- Exposure to human papilloma virus (HPV)
- History of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
Presentation of localised symptoms such as an enlarging lump, pain or bleeding should prompt a consultation with your doctor for further investigation.
The principal treatment types used for head and neck cancer are:
- Radiation therapy
In some patients, all treatment types need to be used. Chemotherapy is often added to increase the effect of radiation therapy in extensive tumours and is especially used for patients with many or very large lymph nodes.
This combination of treatment modalities demonstrates the importance for multidisciplinary collaboration between surgical, medical and radiation oncology specialists. Such multidisciplinary care is available at all Genesis CancerCare departments where strong clinical relationships are managed with local treatment teams and allied health support staff.
External Beam Radiotherapy for Head and Neck Cancer
The treatment of head and neck cancer with radiation therapy is unique for the reason that it routinely requires the delivery of different prescriptions of radiation to specific areas of the head and neck region. This is to adequately dose the primary tumour area and any known or anticipated areas of lymph node disease without exceeding the radiation tolerance of healthy surrounding organs
The previous approach of using different treatment 'phases' now is clinically achieved with the use of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) or RapidArc (VMAT). Both techniques provide effective treatment for head and neck cancer while limiting radiation exposure to surrounding organs, therefore reducing side effects.
External beam radiation therapy services for head and neck cancers are available at all Genesis CancerCare Queensland centres.
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