The treatment of advanced cancer of the head and neck is an ongoing challenge.
The search for treatment of advanced disease often leaves the patient with a significant cosmetic deformity and functional disability. In terms of speech, swallowing, voice, and appearance, the quality of life is negatively affected.
Our head and neck surgical oncologists are not only capable to surgically treat and remove cancer, but also have training in plastic reconstructive surgery. This is often necessary in order to restore the function and appearance of the patient, increasing the patient’s chance of survival and preserving the quality of life.
Treatment of patients with head and neck cancer involves a multi-disciplinary team. Lakeshore physicians work in conjunction with experts in medical oncology, radiation oncology, dentistry, speech pathology, nursing and social services.
Treatment options depend on the following information:
- Location - Cancer can develop from almost any tissue in the head and neck, such as the tongue, tonsils, or larynx (see diagram above).
- Type of Cancer - Cancer is a nonspecific word for any tumor that invades adjacent tissues and has the ability to spread from one area to another. Squamous Cell carcinoma is the most common, but other types are possible.
- Extent of Cancer -
Cancers that have spread locally in the neck, or distantly to other parts of the body, may be treated differently than small localized tumors are (see photo at right).
In order to answer these questions, the following tests are often performed before a treatment plan is generated:
- Fine Needle Aspiration - A small needle is used to pull cells from a mass. Analysis of those cells can often distinguish the type of mass in question.
- Panendoscopy with Biopsies (also commonly referred to as ”Triple Endoscopy”) - While a patient is under anesthesia, the larynx, esophagus, and lungs are examined with small telescopes. This provides the physician with a clearer understanding of all areas affected by cancer.
- CT, MRI, or PET Scans - Physicians use these tests to image deep structures in the body that cannot be examined easily.
For more information on these tests, visit these websites:
Applying new advancements in cancer management, many of our patients are involved in organ preservation protocols where the disease could be successfully controlled with the combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy, reserving surgery only for failure of a non-surgical way to treat the disease.
For more information, visit these websites: