Radiation therapy has a very important role in the treatment of head and neck cancers. In many cases radiation therapy, combined with chemotherapy at the same time, will allow patients to avoid surgery. This is particularly important because head and neck surgery can be disfiguring and if the cancer involves the voice box, patients who have surgery will generally lose their voice. Primary treatment with radiation therapy also means that patients who have the cancer come back in the area of the original tumor can have surgery at that time, often with very good results.
Patients are generally treated with TomoTherapy® at Capital Regional Cancer Center. This technology allows the radiation beam to be carefully sculpted to lessen the side effects of the radiation on healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. This is extremely important in this area because of the close proximity to important areas like the breathing tube, the swallowing tube and the spinal cord.
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