ENT cancers can be treated successfully, and the earlier cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat and cure. Side effects from early treatment are also likely to be less. It is important to seek medical advice early if you detect any warning signs as this can mean an earlier diagnosis if a cancer is present.
Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are the main treatments for head and neck cancers. The exact treatment option varies according to the type and extent of the cancer.
Radiotherapy and chemotherapy (given directly into a vein) are usually administered over several weeks to treat the cancer.
Because of its location in the back of the nose, surgery is not normally used to treat nasopharyngeal cancer, but is required to obtain the initial diagnosis.
Surgery is required to remove the cancer and any involved lymph nodes in the neck.
Radioactive iodine treatment is often given several weeks after surgery to clear remaining cancer cells in the body. This is taken by the patient in capsule or liquid form. The radioactive iodine targets and kills any remaining thyroid cells.
Chemotherapy is usually required as the lymph system, which occurs throughout the whole body, is involved. Radiotherapy may be used when the cancer only involves one part of the body.
Other treatments such as antibody or immunotherapy may be used. This involves administering medication, which attaches to cancer cells and stimulates the immune system to attack the cells. Information kindly provided by Dr David Lau, ENT Surgeon, Gleneagles Hospital.