• Head and Neck Cancer Treatments

Head and Neck Cancer Treatments

Generally, when someone complains of a lump in the neck, a constant or recurring pain in the mouth, inability to open the mouth, or a sore that is unresponsive to medications, they could be a sign of head and neck cancer. Even if you have mild or no symptoms, cancer in the head or neck area can be diagnosed during a routine check-up. Different types of head and neck cancer treatments have emerged with the development of medical science.

How is Head and Neck Cancer Treated?

When a patient is diagnosed with head and neck cancer, he will undergo scans- MRI and PET CT for determining the stage of disease. The scans also would help in planning for surgery. Depending on the stage, location, feasibility of surgery- either or a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are used. In case of advanced disease, the treatment options include chemotherapy, targted therapy and immunotherapy. The following are the common terminologies used-

  • Adjuvant treatment- this is the treatment given after surgery- either radiotherapy or concurrent chemoradiation.
  • Concurrent chemoradiation- when chemotherapy and radiotherapy are simultaneously given.
  • Definitive chemoradiation- if surgery is not feasible, combination of chemotherapy and radiation are used with curative intent.
  • Induction chemotherapy- is used before surgery to downsize the tumour. Proton therapy is considered the most advanced treatment option for head and neck cancer, as it can minimize damage to healthy tissue and surrounding organs. Proton therapy is a type of radiotherapy, which utilizes protons (positively charged particles) instead of X-rays in the treatment process. The proton beam is highly targeted and extremely accurate, allowing for pinpoint accuracy when treating even the most complex tumors. This precision helps limit the amount of radiation exposure to healthy, surrounding tissue and organs, resulting in fewer short-term and long-term side effects.

Head & Neck Cancer Oncologists - Care Team Works

The Head and Neck Cancer care team is a multidisciplinary body that includes healthcare specialists in surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Each team focuses on one patient at a time, so there is sufficient care and treatment. The core team consists of-

Medical oncologist

A medical oncologist is a cancer specialist who uses medication to treat cancer. These medications include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.

Radiation oncologist

A radiation oncologist is a physician who is a radiation specialist and is an expert in using chemotherapy for head and neck cancer treatment.

Surgical oncologist

As the name suggests, the surgical oncologist is a physician who takes the help of surgical methods to remove a malignant tumor or tissue.

List Down many more Oncologists team members for Head & Neck Cancer treatment.

Head and Neck cancer team also comprises of following experts

  • Reconstructive/plastic surgeon
  • Maxillofacial prosthodontist
  • Oncology nurse
  • Oncologic dentist
  • Otolaryngologist
  • Physical therapist
  • Audiologist
  • Speech-language pathologist
  • Psychologist/psychiatrist
  • Social worker
  • Registered dietitian nutritionist

Apart from this list, there are several assisting healthcare professionals who are essential to the care team, like practitioners, assistants, counselors, pharmacists, etc. A patient must undergo several examinations, and check-ups are done by different oncologists before a treatment plan in preparation for carrying out the head neck cancer treatment procedure.

Types of Treatments for Head and Neck Cancer

Which treatment you must go with also depends on your financial backing. Learning about the head and neck cancer treatment cost is important before choosing a particular treatment. Here are the different types of treatments for head and neck cancer


Chemotherapy includes the use of drugs to kill the cancer cells and stops further division or growth of the cancer cells.

Radiation therapy

It is a type of radiation treatment for head and neck cancer that involves using high-energy x-rays that destroy cancer cells. Another type of radiation therapy with an external beam is Proton therapy, which Apollo Hospitals exclusively offer.

List Down various other types of treatment available for Head & Neck Cancer

The other types of head and neck treatments are:

  • Surgery
  • Combination treatments
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)


Immunotherapy activates cancer specific immunity which inturn kills cancer cells. The commonly used immunotherapy class is called checkpoint inhibitors. These medications remove the inhibition of immune cells called lymphocytes caused by the cancer cells so that the lymphocytes can attack the cancer cells. Immunotherapy is generally safe treatment which does not cause traditional chemotherapy side effects like vomiting, hair fall or risk of infections

FDA-approved drugs like Pembrolizumab and Nivolumab are used in metastatic head and neck cancer treatment.

Targeted therapies

It is called targeted therapy if therapy is targeted to the specific genes of cancer, proteins, or tissues causing cancer growth or recurrence. A targeted therapy inhibits the spread and growth of a cancer cell and protects the healthy cells from getting damaged.

How is the Quality of Life after Head and Neck Cancer Treatment?

After the treatment is done, patients naturally hope to return to normal life before they have cancer. They must understand that it would take some time to recover from the trauma. That is why a head and neck cancer care team includes psychiatrists and counselors. It is normal to have scarring in the body to feel weak or emotionally drained. However, it all goes with time.

APCC provide a post-Cancer treatment quality of life consideration. The oncologists and caregivers observe the patient closely to identify any symptoms of recurrence or abnormality. They ensure the right support and resources are delivered to the patients so that they cope with the trauma and side effects of the treatment.

Conclusion on Head & Neck Cancer Treatment

With the advancement of medical science and technology, several new types of treatments are coming in, as well as various state-of-the-art ways of reforming old treatments For example, radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy or immunotherapy is used for advanced stages of head and neck cancer. Proton therapy on the other hand is considered the most advanced radiation therapy available to ensure minimum treatment side effects and ensure quality of life. Your doctor will give you an exact picture of the modern-day technologies and treatment options.