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Head and neck cancer

Treatment options for head and neck cancer

We target head and neck tumors with a range of treatments and technologies, including radiation, surgery and chemotherapy, as well as immunotherapy and targeted therapy. Your multidisciplinary team of head and neck cancer experts will answer your questions and recommend treatment options based on your unique diagnosis and needs. Treatment options for head and neck cancer may include:

Immunotherapy

Drugs called checkpoint inhibitors are designed to help the body's immune system identify and kill cancer cells. These drugs work by disrupting signaling proteins that allow cancer cells to disguise themselves from the immune system. Immunotherapy may not be used to treat all patients, and responses to the treatment may vary. Immunotherapy may also be used in combination with other cancer treatments.

Targeted therapies

These are drugs designed to block the growth and spread of cancer by attacking specific proteins and preventing cancer cells from dividing or by destroying them directly. One potential target in head and neck cancer is the epidermal growth factor receptor, or EGFR, which is a protein found on the surface of many types of cancer cells. Your doctor may suggest using an EGFR-targeted drug in combination with chemotherapy or radiation therapy for head and neck cancers, such as laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer.

Chemotherapy

These treatments for head and neck cancer are typically reserved for patients whose cancer has metastasized to the bones or elsewhere in the body.

Radiation therapy

This treatment delivers high doses of radiation to cancerous cells in the head and neck using technology designed to reduce damage to healthy tissue and organs. By focusing the radiation directly on the tumor, these therapies may reduce the risk of common side effects associated with head and neck cancer treatment.

Surgery

Surgery is often the first-line treatment option for head and neck cancers. Some patients may be treated with surgery alone; for other patients, combining head and neck cancer surgery with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy may be appropriate.

Learn more about surgery for head and neck cancer

Read about flexible robotic surgery for head and neck cancer