Advertisement

How is head and neck squamous cell carcinoma treated?

Christopher M. Garvey, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)

Squamous cell carcinoma is by far the most common type of head and neck cancer. Squamous cells are the cells that make up the lining of your mouth, throat and nose.

Treatment of head and neck squamous cell cancer can be complicated.  The location of the cancer (lip, mouth, tongue, tonsil, nose, voice box), the stage of the tumor (how advanced the cancer is), and the patient's preferences are all factored into developing a treatment plan.

Surgery and radiation therapy are the two modalities that treat head and neck cancer. Chemotherapy alone does not treat head and neck cancers; but in advanced staged cancers, it can be added to radiation therapy to enhance its tumor killing effects and reduce metastasis (spread of cancer cells to other parts of your body).

Today many medical centers offer minimally invasive surgery to treat head and neck cancers.  Specialized instruments, lasers, telescopes and even the robot are being used to remove these cancers resulting in faster recoveries and fewer complications.

The decision on whether to treat head and neck cancer with surgery or radiation therapy, with or without chemotherapy, is made by the patient after all the risks, benefits and side effects of both treatment modalities have been discussed with the patient.

Continue Learning about Head & Neck Cancer Treatment

Do all types of head and neck cancer require surgery?
John H. Lee, MDJohn H. Lee, MD
Surgery isn't always necessary for head and neck cancers. Watch this video with Dr. John Lee of Sanf...
More Answers
What health professionals treat head and neck cancers?
Intermountain HealthcareIntermountain Healthcare
Head and neck cancers may require a multidisciplinary approach. Removal of the cancer may involve an...
More Answers
Are There Any New Treatments for Head and Neck Cancers That Are Resistant to Chemotherapy?
Are There Any New Treatments for Head and Neck Cancers That Are Resistant to Chemotherapy?
Sanford - John Lee - Does head and neck cancer always require surgery
Sanford - John Lee - Does head and neck cancer always require surgery

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.