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Head and neck cancer program

The Head and Neck Cancer Program at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Tulsa, uses innovative technologies to treat the disease while also helping patients manage side effects and improve quality of life. These advances are designed to reduce damage to healthy tissue and organs, helping to limit the severity of side effects that may diminish patients’ ability to swallow, eat, speak and perform other important everyday functions.

The team treats head and neck cancers, which include those of the oral cavity, larynx, pharynx, salivary glands and nasal cavities. The team also treats thyroid cancer, since the thyroid is in the general head and neck area.

Your treatment options

Our multidisciplinary team of head and neck cancer experts work together, all under one roof, to develop a treatment plan tailored to each patient’s needs, communicating regularly and adjusting the treatment plan when necessary.

Treatment for head and neck cancer often involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy, either alone or in a combination of two or more.

Standard treatments

  • Surgery is typically the first line of treatment for this cancer. Its goal is to remove the tumor and affected surrounding tissue.
    • We offer the Flex® Robotic System that allows the surgeon to access hard-to-reach areas of the throat in a minimally invasive way. The Flex Robotic System may lead to shorter recovery times, less pain and less damage to tissues and muscles critical to eating and other daily activities.
    • Our board-certified plastic surgeons also use a variety of technologies to repair areas of the head and neck using reconstructive microsurgery technologies. These procedures are designed to rebuild the nose, tongue or throat using tissues from other areas of the body. Patients who have had a laryngectomy to remove their voice box may also choose to undergo a tracheoesophageal puncture, which is used to help patients speak again.
  • Radiation therapy may be recommended to destroy cancer cells, shrink tumors and alleviate symptoms, using highly targeted X-rays or radioactive substances. Radiation for head and neck cancer patients may be used either as the main treatment or after surgery to kill microscopic disease.
    • Brachytherapy, a form of radiation therapy, may be used during surgery to radiate small areas of cancer and reduce damage to healthy tissue.
    • Robotic radiosurgery, a non-invasive option for patients with inoperable or surgically complex tumors as an alternative to surgery, may also allow our radiation oncologists to deliver high doses of radiation to a targeted area.
  • Chemotherapy is often used to treat head and neck cancer patients when the disease has spread to the lungs or elsewhere in the body. The drugs are designed to help slow or stop the growth of cancer cells.

Precision cancer treatments

Every head and neck cancer is as different as the patient battling it. Each has genomic differences unique to that patient’s tumor. The tools of precision cancer treatment allow us to examine certain cancers at a cellular level in search of abnormalities that may be driving the cancer’s behavior, and if possible, match those mutations to drugs that are designed to target them. Options the team may recommend include:

  • Immunotherapy, which uses drugs to trigger the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells (Checkpoint inhibitors are a type of immunotherapy designed to disrupt the signaling proteins that allow cancer cells to disguise themselves from the immune system.)
  • Targeted therapy, whichuses drugs that target a specific tumor behavior (Advanced genomic testing may be used to sequence the tumor’s DNA profile to help identify whether the tumor has mutations that may be targeted with existing drugs.)

After your treatment has ended, your head and neck cancer team will continue to follow up on your progress with scans, bloodwork and routine physical exams to monitor for cancer recurrence.

Quality of life

Many head and neck cancer patients experience a variety of side effects. Our multidisciplinary care team works closely with patients to help anticipate, manage and, when possible, avoid cancer-related side effects. Side-effect-management options for patients with head and neck cancer may include:

Nutrition therapy: Head and neck cancer and its treatment may make it difficult for patients to swallow. Our dieticians are available to develop nutrition plans to help patients stay strong during and after treatment.

Speech therapy: Our speech therapists work closely with head and neck cancer patients whose speech has been affected by radiation therapy or other surgeries or treatments. For patients who have received a tracheoesophageal puncture, our staff is trained to help patients who need a speaking valve, a device placed on a tracheostomy tube that may allow patients to speak.

Surgery: Reconstructive microsurgery or other flap techniques may be an option for patients whose disease or treatment affects their appearance.

Where we are located

CTCA Tulsa

Head and Neck Cancer Program
10109 E. 79th St.
Tulsa, OK 74133

New Patients: 888-552-6760
Existing Patients: (918) 800-CTCA

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