Radiation Therapy for Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer refers collectively to cancers that arise in the head and neck region, including the nasal cavity, sinuses, mouth, lips, salivary glands, larynx or throat. These cancers typically begin in the squamous cells that line the moist surfaces inside the mouth, nose and throat. Radiation therapy is used to treat head and neck cancer painlessly and noninvasively. External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) is an effective treatment for head and neck cancer, working within cancer cells to damage their ability to multiply. During treatment, high-energy X-rays are delivered to the cancer cells with a linear accelerator (LINAC). Treatments are delivered daily Monday through Friday. Each treatment takes about 10 to 15 minutes. The treatment process is painless, safe and will not burn or hurt you. Side effects are usually minimal, and most patients return to routine activities immediately after each treatment. Several factors determine candidacy for radiation therapy treatment including the stage of the cancer, potential side effects, age and overall health. Sometimes a combination of treatments is the best plan for treating head and neck cancer.

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