ORAL, HEAD AND NECK CANCER

Advanced, precise treatment based on your needs.

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Getting started

Your treatment begins with your Legacy Cancer Institute doctor recommending a plan based on expert guidelines, called protocols. Your treatment is determined by:

  • The type of tumor
  • The location of the tumor
  • The extent of the disease, called the stage
  • Any tests you have had during diagnosis
  • A discussion about what is right for you

Meet our providers

Treatment options

There are several types of treatment for oral, head and neck cancer, and many people undergo a combination of treatments.

  • Surgery for oral, head and neck cancers has the goal of removing the tumor. Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed. Our team uses a variety of techniques to help restore or preserve one’s ability to speak and eat. 
    • Our surgeons are fellowship-trained in both medicine and dentistry, making them uniquely qualified to provide many options for your care and help you return to your normal appearance and abilities.
    • Legacy offers traditional and minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery to remove select cancers of the mouth and throat. Robot-assisted surgery can result in less pain, shorter recovery times and better function of the mouth and throat.
    • Plastic or reconstructive surgery may be required. When needed, we use computer planning for reconstruction. We also offer dental reconstruction.
  • Radiation uses X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation is sometimes the only treatment for oral, head and neck cancer and is often used together with chemotherapy. 
    • Legacy has the latest technology in radiation therapy, including intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). IMRT reduces treatment time and better protects your healthy organs from high-dose radiation while we treat your head and neck with more accuracy. 
    • Legacy Cancer Institute also has an experienced Gamma Knife radiosurgery team for the treatment of certain head and neck cancers located at  the base of the skull. Learn more about Gamma Knife.
  • Chemotherapy uses drugs that kill cancer cells throughout the body. For oral, head and neck cancer, chemotherapy may be used before or after surgery and often with radiation.  Chemotherapy is also used for those with advanced cancers not treatable by radiation or surgery. 

  • Immunotherapy uses medications that stimulate the patient’s immune system to attack cancer.  Currently, it is approved for use for those with very advanced cancers that have not responded completely to surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

  • Talk to your doctor about these and other options for treating oral, head and neck cancers. There may also be a clinical trial (research study) for which you are eligible. Researchers are discovering new therapies for treating cancer all the time, giving doctors new resources for your care. 

    What happens next

    Many cancer treatments can cause challenging side effects. Your cancer team is dedicated to helping you manage these side effects in the best ways possible. Comfort care can treat symptoms to help improve your quality of life; this is also called palliative care.

    You may meet with a speech and language therapist who can help you with recovery from your cancer treatment.

    To see how well your treatment is working, some of the tests used to diagnose and stage your cancer may be repeated. Your doctor uses these tests to decide whether to stop, change or continue treatment based on the results. These tests can also determine if cancer has returned. Whenever possible, we work to stop the growth of cancer and reduce the chance of cancer coming back.  

    Working together

    Our cancer experts work together with a common goal: delivering the right care for you.
    A range of specialists collaborate regularly in meetings called tumor boards to discuss the best plan for your care. Your treatment plan is made just for you, depending on your general health, your age, your particular cancer and its growth.

    More support

    You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs. 

    Meet our providers