Your treatment plan will depend on the location of the tumor, the stage of the cancer, your age, and your general health. Whatever treatment plan your physician specifies, you will have the resources of the Brown Cancer Center’s state-of-the-art technology and most advanced methods of treatment. Treatment options may include one or a combination of the following:
The first objective of surgery is to remove the tumor and some of the healthy tissue around it. This procedure reduces the chance that cancer cells will be left in the area.
The second objective of surgery is to evaluate the lymph nodes, if your physician team suspects the cancer has spread. Surgery may be followed by radiation treatment or a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.
Head and neck surgery often changes your ability to chew, swallow or talk. You may look different after surgery, and your face and neck may be swollen. The swelling usually goes away within a few weeks.
However, lymph node dissection can slow the flow of lymph, which may collect in the tissues; this swelling may last for a long time.
After surgery, parts of the neck and throat may feel numb because nerves have been cut. If lymph nodes in the neck were removed, the shoulder and neck may be weak and stiff.
The Maxillofacial Dental Oncology Clinic, the only dedicated dental oncology clinic in Kentucky, also plays an important role for patients whose conditions are disfiguring, as well as debilitating. When surgery is part of the cancer treatment plan, portions of the oral cavity and the head and neck region are removed to cure and/or control a tumor. Plastic surgery and/or a dental prosthesis can be used in reconstruction that will enable the patient to speak and swallow immediately after surgery.
Our dental oncologist is part of the Brown Cancer Center’s Head and Neck Working Group and is consulted before surgical treatment that will result in permanent removal of facial features, or parts of the mouth or esophagus.
Radiation therapy, which is also called radiotherapy, uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Before you undergo radiation, a radiation oncologist and physicist plan the precise delivery of the radiation to minimize radiation to your vital organs and maximize the radiation to the affected area.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. Chemotherapy may be recommended to kill any remaining cancer cells following surgery, or to control cancer growth and relieve symptoms. Most chemotherapy drugs are given intravenously or by catheter.
Clinical trials research
In addition to using the most advanced methods of diagnosis and treatment, the Brown Cancer Center is constantly examining new approaches to cancer treatment. Brown Cancer Center physicians participate in and initiate a wide range of ongoing clinical trials and research, (needs link) giving you access to new therapies that may not yet be available in other parts of the world.
If you have general questions about your condition, the Brown Cancer Center, or free services available to you and your loved ones, please contact the M. Krista Loyd Resource Center at 502.562-4158 or 866-530-5516.