Radiotherapy for head and neck tumors
Radiotherapy may be provided as a first-line treatment or as a follow up to surgery. In both cases, it may be combined with a relatively unaggressive form of chemotherapy that increases the effectiveness of the radiation.
Objectives of radiotherapy:
- Destroy the tumor and any cancerous lymph nodes in patients who are not treated by surgery. In this case, the radiation therapist bases the treatment on the patient’s scans.
- Destroy the invisible part of the disease (microscopic disease), including cancerous cells around the tumor and/or in apparently healthy lymph nodes. The radiation therapist uses scans, microscope analyses of the tumor, if it is removed by surgery, and his/her knowledge of the disease’s natural history to determine the area to be treated.
Consultation with a radiation therapist
The radiation therapist explains the goal of the treatment, the procedure and any possible side effects. You will see this doctor again during your treatment and at post-treatment follow-up consultations.
Preparation of the treatment
Before radiotherapy begins, we make a soft-plastic mask of your face, which you will wear during treatment to make sure you don’t move your head unconsciously. On the day treatment begins, you will be given a CT scan, the results of which will be used to prepare the treatment.
Each course of treatment is prepared in conjunction with a specialist medical physics team, who will ensure the treatment is administered safely and according to good practices.
At the IUCT-O, all patients with head and neck tumors receive “intensity-modulated radiotherapy”. The radiotherapy center has:
- 3 tomotherapy machines, which are particularly suited to treating large tumors and/or tumors close to the base of the skull;
- 4 VMAT (volumetric modulated arc therapy) accelerators.
Treatment is administered by technicians. A course of treatment will involve one session per day (apart from weekends) for a period of between 5 and 7 weeks.
- A dental workup before treatment begins;
- Medical check-ups at least once a week;
- Dietary advice;
- If necessary, nursing care from radiotherapy nurses.
End of treatment consultation
The radiation therapist will explain to you how the treatment went and organize follow-up appointments to monitor your progress.