Head and neck cancers develop when abnormal cells develop and grow in areas including the mouth, nose and throat. Head and neck cancers can grow in the following places:
- Oral cavity, which can include the lips, cheeks and tongue
- Salivary glands, which produce saliva
- Pharynx, which is a tube that starts behind the nose and leads to the esophagus
- Trachea, which is the windpipe
- Larynx, which is the voice box
- Lymph nodes in the upper part of the neck
Treating Head and Neck Cancers with CyberKnife® Radiation
Conventional radiation is a common treatment for head and neck cancers. The challenge is that physicians can only use conventional radiation once. Using it again at the same dose causes harmful complications. Using it at lower doses is just not effective.
CyberKnife treatment allows doctors to use radiation to treat head and neck cancers even after using conventional radiation. CyberKnife works with computers and imaging tools to find the exact location of the tumor. It also uses the Synchrony Respiratory Tracking System to track the movement of the tumor even when a patient is breathing. With CyberKnife, doctors can administer the same high doses of radiation directly to the tumor while sparing any surrounding healthy tissue from unnecessary exposure.
Preparing for CyberKnife Treatment
Every patient sees our team of specialized experts, which include:
- Head/neck surgeons
- Head/neck radiation oncologists
- Medical oncologists who specializes in head and neck cancer
We do everything we can to ensure that you meet with all the specialists on the same day, or at least within a few days. These specialists work together to develop a treatment recommendation for you as quickly as possible.
If our team determines that you are a good candidate for CyberKnife treatment, we will guide you every step of the way.
Before CyberKnife Treatment
Before you have CyberKnife treatment, you may need:
- Customized facemask – Your team will customize a soft, mesh mask for your face that you can see and breathe through easily during the procedure.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan – A CT scan creates a detailed picture of the tumors in your head and neck using computers and x-rays. The CT scan will give the CyberKnife the information it needs to pinpoint the exact size, shape and location of your tumor.
During CyberKnife Treatment
During the treatment, all you will have to do is lie still on a table wearing your custom-fitted facemask. A robotic arm will move around your body delivering radiation beams to your tumor. You should not feel any discomfort, and nothing will touch you directly.
After CyberKnife Treatment
Most head and neck cancer patients will receive five CyberKnife treatments over the course of one week. This can take place before, after, or instead of surgery. After treatment, you should be able to return to your normal daily activities. We will also make sure you receive any additional services, which can include:
- Pain control
- Help with speech and swallowing
- Specialty dentistry
- Social work