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.


Treatment procedure

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.


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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.

Patients receive:

  • 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.