Cancers affecting the head and neck are not common. People with this type of cancer are usually treated in specialist centres by a team of specialist healthcare professionals.For most people, the aim of treatment is to remove or destroy all of the cancer and to reduce the chances of it coming back. The treatment you are offered depends on:
The main aim is to remove and destroy the cancer, but your doctors will also try to reduce the long-term effects of treatment. For example, they will plan your treatment so the effect on your appearance and ability to speak, chew and swallow is as little as possible.
Treatments for head and neck cancers include:
Before you decide on the best treatment, it is important to talk to your doctor or specialist nurse about how the different treatments may affect you.
The team giving you your treatment will explain to you what is involved. They will give you help and support in coping with any side effects. Some people also use complementary therapies to help them cope with treatment side effects. It is important to check with your cancer specialist first before trying a complementary therapy.
We understand that having treatment can be a difficult time for people. We're here to support you. If you want to talk, you can:
Your doctors may suggest radiotherapy instead of surgery if:
Below is a sample of the sources used in our head and neck cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
British Association of Head and Neck Oncologists. Head and Neck Cancer: United Kingdom National Multidisciplinary Guidelines. 2016. Available from: https://www.bahno.org.uk/_userfiles/pages/files/ukheadandcancerguidelines2016.pdf (accessed September 2018).
Brockstein BE, Stenson KM, Song S. Overview of treatment for head and neck cancer. UpToDate https://www.uptodate.com/contents/overview-of-treatment-for-head-and-neck-cancer (accessed Spetember 2018).
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Cancer of the upper aerodigestive tract: assessment and management in people aged 16 and over. 2016. Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng36 (accessed September 2018).
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr Chris Alcock, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.
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