Head & Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancers can have many different names depending on where the cancer starts. Head and neck cancers includes cancers that start in the throat, nasopharyngeal, oropharyngeal, hypopharyngeal, oral cavity, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, and salivary glands.

According to Cancer.net, Head and neck cancer accounts for about 4% of all cancers in the United States. This year, an estimated 66,630 people (48,740 men and 17,890 women) will develop head and neck cancer.

At South Georgia Center for Cancer Care, we understand how hard it can be to choose the perfect team for the treatment of head and neck cancer. Our highly trained physicians take a multidisciplinary approach to create your individualized treatment plan. It’s important to have the very latest treatment options with a dedicated team in a comfortable and caring setting, close to your home. You deserve exceptional and compassionate care and South Georgia Center for Cancer Care will be an integral part of your journey to survivorship.

Possible side effects of head & neck radiation therapy:

  • Fatigue
  • Mouth sores
  • Mouth infection (oral thrush)
  • Taste changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth and thick saliva
  • Hoarseness
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Skin redness, burning and pain in the area treated
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Weight loss
How do we treat head and neck cancers?

Radiation can be used before head and neck cancer surgery to shrink the tumor or after surgery to kill any cancer cells left in the area. It is often delivered in conjunction with chemotherapy and targeted mediations. Head and neck cancers occur when cancerous cells develop in the head and neck area, including the mouth, throat, and nasal cavity. Usually, cancers of the head and neck begin in the moist lining of mucosal surfaces or the tissue lining of organs with hollow openings. Treatments are scheduled Monday through Friday over the course of several weeks. In some cases, we can delivery higher doses of radiation in fewer treatments.

Your treatment is custom-tailored and unique to your diagnosis, tumor size, location and involvement. Your radiation oncologist (a doctor who specializes in treating cancer with radiation) will review all available treatment options and recommend a personalized plan for you based on national guidelines, which guide all cancer treatments. Radiation therapy is used either alone or in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery.

Radiation can be delivered either from outside the body with a machine called a linear accelerator (external beam radiation) or from a radiation source implanted permanently or temporarily in the body (brachytherapy).

Benefits of Radiation Therapy:

  • Pain Free Treatment Delivery
  • Non-Invasive
  • Custom Tailored Treatment Plan
  • Little to No Side Effects
  • Immediate Return to Daily Activities
  • Minimal Radiation Exposure to Adjacent Healthy Tissue
what to expect
1

Initial Scans

To create a customized treatment plan, you will have a CT or PET/CT scan to identify the exact location of your cancer.
2

Pre-Treatment Preparation

Ink marks or small tattoo-like dots may be placed on your skin in the area of the tumor to ensure the radiation is delivered to the tumor. The markings will be visible on your skin, but only in the area of the tumor and are permanent. They are designed to fade and will begin to disappear towards the end of your radiation treatments. Occasionally, the markings will have to be reapplied to your skin during treatment. It is very important that you do not scrub the markings during your bathing/showering. Your radiation therapist will discuss with you how to care for your skin during your treatments, including protecting the markings.
3

Radiation Treatment Scheduling

Radiation treatments happen Monday through Friday for a number of weeks, usually for 5-8 weeks. Weekend breaks, on Saturday and Sunday, allow your normal cells to recover and assist your healing process.
4

Treatment Room

Our radiation therapists will bring you from the waiting room, into the treatment room with the linear accelerator (radiation machine). The therapist will make you comfortable in the room and assist you in getting positioned on the treatment table.
5

Delivery Machine Setup

Two therapists will align the laser to the target on your skin, indicated by the “tattoo-like” markings. Alignment takes only a couple of minutes. The therapists will then leave the room to deliver and monitor your treatment.
6

Delivery of Radiation Therapy

During the treatment the machine will move over your body. You won’t feel anything. It’s much like having an x-ray. Sometimes the specific area of skin receiving treatment, can get tender and sunburned, your healthcare team will want to know if you are experiencing any burning or discomfort during your treatment. Your healthcare team will guide you with proper care of your skin. Typically the treatment takes about 10-15 minutes. The most common side effect of radiation therapy is fatigue – it is very important to get plenty of rest and adequate nutrition.
7

Post Treatment Followup

Generally, you will see your doctor weekly. However, we are always available if you need us.

Take The Next Step

If are showing any of the symptoms listed on this page, are prone to the risks listed above, or are seeking more information on available treatment options, please click on the button below. Conveniently located in Statesboro, GA, our friendly, courteous staff is always willing to answer questions, and we make every effort to make your visit as comfortable as possible.

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The doctors, nurses and staff are very committed to providing the best care. If I could do anywhere in the world, I would still go there.

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I love them all dearly. They do everything right – they ask how you are doing physically and emotionally, they listen, they stay on schedule. They really care. I just can’t say enough good things about them.

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It’s the best treatment you could ever get. I rate them as high as the scale goes.

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I've never been treated better in my life. My care was perfect. They made it quick and easy so I could get back to doing what I enjoy.

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