There are many treatment options for throat cancer. Treatment strategy is decided based on several factors such as the location and stage of cancer, the type of cancer, your age and general health, and your personal preferences.
Treatment options for throat cancer include:
This therapy uses high-powered energy beams such as X-rays to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumours. Radiation therapy can be given by a large machine placed outside your body (external beam radiation) or from small radioactive seeds and wires that are placed inside your body, in proximity to the cancer (brachytherapy). Radiotherapy damages normal cells of the body as well and therefore can cause side effects such as fatigue, nausea and vomiting, erythema of skin. Radiation therapy is considered as the preferred treatment for early-stage throat cancers and many patients may need only this treatment. For more advanced throat cancers, combination therapy of radiation therapy with chemotherapy or surgery may be considered. In very advanced throat cancers, radiation therapy can help to shrink the size of the tumour, reduce the signs and symptoms and make you more comfortable.
The type of surgical procedure done for the treatment of throat cancer depends on the location and stage of your cancer. Surgeries done for throat cancer include:
Complications of surgery include the risk of bleeding, infection and difficulty speaking or swallowing. The risk or extent of complication depends on the specific procedure you undergo.
Chemotherapy: During this treatment chemicals are used to kill cancer cells. It may be given along with radiation therapy while treating throat cancers. Certain chemotherapy drugs have been shown to improve the sensitivity of cancer cells to radiation therapy. However, combination therapy increases the risk of side effects of both treatments. Your doctor will discuss the possible side effects and also if combination therapy is likely to improve the prognosis.
Targeted drug therapy alters the specific aspects of cancer cells that promote their growth. Cetuximab is approved for targeted therapy for treatment of throat cancer in certain situations. Several other targeted drugs are being studied in clinical trials for efficacy in treatment of throat cancer. Targeted drugs may be given along with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
This is an important aspect of treatment for throat cancers. Treatment for throat cancer results in several complications such as difficulty in swallowing and loss of speech. Your doctor will refer you to specialists during and after throat cancer treatment, to seek help for:
Your doctor will discuss the treatment options, potential side effects and complications of the treatment and then decide on treatment that is most appropriate for you.
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