Skip to main content

Wilmot Cancer Institute Logo

Treatment

Paul van der Sloot MDTreatment for head and neck cancers can vary based on the type, location and stage of the cancer. Our team of specialists works together to develop a coordinated and personalized treatment plan that addresses each patient’s diagnosis. They have a multidisciplinary clinic, which can allow you to meet with multiple doctors in one visit. 

Options for the treatment of head and neck cancers can include combinations of: 

Surgery

There are many different kinds of surgical procedures available to remove head and neck cancers. The head and neck surgeons — known as otolaryngologists — at Wilmot are trained in minimally invasive techniques including: 

  • Transoral laser resection, which accesses a tumor through the patient’s mouth and then removes it with a laser. 
  • Transoral robotic surgery, which allows for removal of tumors through the mouth, helping many patients avoid more invasive traditional surgeries. Wilmot physicians were the first in Western New York to perform this cutting-edge surgery, and we remain the only program in the region to offer it. 
  • Endoscopic skull-based surgery, which removes tumors using tiny scopes that are inserted through the nasal cavity, eliminating the need for incisions and also speeding recovery. 

Radiation

Radiation therapy uses energy from radiation beams, radio isotopes, or charged particles to target tumors and to eradicate cancer cells. For head and neck cancers, radiation therapy can be used in a number of ways. It can be the primary treatment, or it can follow surgery (sometimes in combination with chemotherapy) as an adjuvant therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells. It can also be used with chemotherapy as a neoadjuvent therapy to help shrink a larger tumor before surgery. 

Protecting healthy tissue is important when delivering radiation therapy. Wilmot offers precision radiation technology including: 

  • Tomotherapy, which delivers highly precise doses of radiation from many different directions, surrounding a tumor with powerful radiation while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. 
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy, which uses beams of radiation that vary in intensity, delivering a high dose of radiation that conforms to the three-dimensional shape of a tumor while minimizing the negative effects to critical organs such as parotid glands, mandible, spinal cord and brain.

Chemotherapy

 Chemotherapy uses drugs — given either as pills or intravenously — to destroy cancer cells. It can be the primary treatment or used in combination with radiation before or after surgery.

Side Effects

Many cancer treatments cause side effects such as hair loss or fatigue, but not everyone experiences side effects the same way.

The American Cancer Society also offers a free online class to help patients manage the side effects of their illness.