Radiation Oncology

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Head and Neck Cancer

This year alone about 62,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx and thyroid. More than 25 percent of oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke or have other risk factors.

Head and neck cancers arise from the cells that make up the face, mouth and throat. Because cancers in different locations behave differently, treatment depends on the cancer type and extent. Some common locations include:

  • Nasal cavity/paranasal sinuses.
  • Nasopharynx.
  • Oral cavity (lips, gums, floor of mouth, oral tongue, cheek mucosa, hard palate, retromolar trigone).
  • Oropharynx (base of tongue, tonsils, soft palate, oropharyngeal wall).
  • Larynx (vocal cords and supraglottic larynx).
  • Hypopharynx (pyriform sinuses, post-cricoid area, posterior pharyngeal wall).
  • Salivary glands (parotid, submandibular, sublingual and minor salivary glands).
  • Thyroid.

Cancers arising in the brain or eyes are considered different from head and neck cancers (Please look at our Brain Cancer section). Treatment for head and neck cancer depends on several factors, including the type of cancer, the size and stage, its location, and your overall health. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are the mainstays of treating head and neck cancer.

For many head and neck cancers, combining two or three types of treatments may be most effective. That's why it is important to talk with several cancer specialists about your care, including a surgeon, a radiation oncologist and a medical oncologist.

Ways to treat Head and Neck Cancers:

External beam radiation therapy involves a series of daily outpatient treatments to accurately deliver radiation to the cancer.

3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) combines multiple radiation treatment fields to deliver precise doses of radiation to the affected area. Tailoring each of the radiation beams to focus on the tumor delivers a high dose of radiation to the tumor and avoids nearby healthy tissue.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is the most recent advance in the delivery of radiation. IMRT improves on 3D-CRT by modifying the intensity of the radiation within each of the radiation beams. This allows more precise adjustment of radiation doses to the tissues within the target area

Side Effects

The side effects you may experience will depend on the area being treated, the type of radiation used and whether or not you also received chemotherapy. Before treatment, your doctor will describe what you can expect.

Some patients experience minor or no side effects and can continue their normal routines.

If at any time you develop side effects, tell your doctor or nurse. He or she can give you medicine to help.

Physicians

Our physicians who specialize the treatment of Head and Neck Cancer:

K.S. Clifford Chao, M.D.: (212) 746-3608

Bhupesh Parashar, M.D.: (212) 746-3612

Clinical Trials

IRB # 1505016229 A First-in-Human Study of Repeat Dosing with REGN2810, a Monoclonal, Fully Human Antibody to Programmed Death - 1 (PD-1), as Single Therapy and in Combination with Other Anti-Cancer Therapies in Patients with Advanced Malignancies NCT02383212
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This study is currently recruiting participants.

Schedule Appointment

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Contact Us

Stich Radiation Oncology Center

New York-Presbyterian Hospital/
Weill Cornell Medical Center
525 East 68th Street
New York, NY 10065
Tel: (212) 746-3600
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The Arnold Center For Radiation Oncology

New York Hospital Queens

56-45 Main Street
(56th Avenue between Main Street and 141st Street)
Flushing, NY 11355
Tel: (718) 670-1501

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New York-Presbyterian/
Lower Manhattan Cancer Center

21 West Broadway
New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 746-6600

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