Head and neck cancers are defined generally as squamous-cell carcinomas arising from the mucosal surfaces of the oral cavity, sinuses/nasal cavity, pharynx (upper part of the throat), or larynx (voice box). Most patients present with a lump in their mouth, throat, tongue, or neck. Sometimes this lump is associated with symptoms such as problems swallowing and sometimes it is not.
Each year, there are approximately 110,000 new cases in the United States*. In the past, head and neck cancers were mostly seen in older patients with a history of heavy tobacco and alcohol use. More recently, we have seen a rise in cases of human papilloma virus (HPV)-associated head and neck cancers caused by exposure to HPV type 16. These HPV-associated head and neck cancers typically arise approximately 10 to 30 years after exposure.
Improved methods of delivering radiation therapy and the use of chemotherapy and radiation therapy together have improved the survival rate among patients with head and neck cancers, especially those with HPV-associated cancer. Additionally, the new biologic medications that allow the immune system to attack cancer are particularly useful in several types of head and neck cancers. These medications are welcomed as extremely positive advancements.
* source: https://www.enthealth.org/be_ent_smart/50-facts-about-oral-head-and-neck-cancer/
Hyperthermia can be added to a head and neck cancer treatment plan at any time. Multiple studies demonstrate the combination of chemotherapy and radiation can benefit from adding hyperthermia. The combination of chemotherapy plus radiation can be curative in many patients depending on the stage and specifics of an individual’s tumor.
Optimally, hyperthermia treatment is initiated as soon as the patient begins receiving radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Improving your therapeutic regimen leads to the best outcome. In addition, newer therapies such as immunotherapy might be advantageous for some patients.
For all patients, the goal is to choose the right therapy or combination of therapies that lead to the best outcome while minimizing side effects. Hyperthermia often has no or minimal side effects and has no known adverse effects on normal tissue. Adding hyperthermia can maximize the effectiveness of your therapeutic regimen without risking sensitive surrounding organs. This means the larynx (voice box), esophagus, trachea and the many nerves and arteries in the neck are not adversely affected by adding hyperthermia to treat head and neck cancers.