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 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.
Your doctors may suggest radiotherapy instead of surgery if:
If a head and neck cancer is bigger, or has spread to lymph nodes in the neck, you may need more than one type of treatment. This may be:
2 or 3 cycles of chemotherapy, followed by a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy (called chemoradiation or chemoradiotherapy)
a combination of a targeted therapy and radiotherapy
surgery followed by radiotherapy, chemotherapy or chemoradiation.