Treatment of Neck Cancer

by Disease Fix Largest Disease Information Center

Mostly, neck cancers are squamous cell carcinoma i.e. a type of carcinoma which arises from cells which are present inside the lining of the nose, mouth and throat. Squamous cell cancers are generally associated with smoking or exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV). Some other less common types of head and neck cancers include salivary gland tumors, lymphomas, and sarcomas.

The treatment for neck cancer depends on certain factors. They are:

  • Stage of the disease
  • Exact location of the cancer
  • Severity of symptoms
  • General health and patient preference

Treatment methods for neck cancers are:


The primary and most common method to remove cancerous tumors and unhealthy tissues is surgery. There are different types of surgeries for neck cancer:

  • Laser technology: Early-stage tumors are treated with laser (especially if it was found in the larynx).
  • Excision: During excision, an operation is performed in which the cancerous portion of the tumor is removed with some surrounding healthy tissue (which has some chances of getting infected), known as a margin.
  • Lymph node dissection or neck dissection: Sometimes, doctors suspect that the cancer has spread and therefore may remove lymph nodes in the neck. This leads to stiffness in the neck and later in shoulders.
  • Reconstructive (plastic) surgery: Sometimes, during a cancer surgery, major tissues are removed such as removing the jaw, skin, pharynx, or tongue to rebuild the bones and tissues. Plastic surgery maintains a person’s appearance and it also helps in keeping the function of the affected organ intact.
  • Prosthetic devices: Prosthetic devices are used to maintain the appearance of the part of the face or mouth and restore the function of the organ. 


Chemotherapy is used to reduce or shrink a lump on side of neck, a tumor in the nearby lymph nodes, or a lump on back of neck. Chemotherapy is given in combination with radiation treatment known as chemo-radiation. 

Chemotherapy is also given post-surgery to destroy the remaining cancer cells which have the ability to grow and divide. 


Radiotherapy can be given along surgery. In some cases of head and neck cancer, radiation therapy is often the primary treatment method. High intensity X-rays are used to kill the cancerous cells. The lumps or tumors that cannot be removed through surgery are destroyed by radiations.

External-beam radiation therapy is the most commonly used radiation therapy where radiations are given from a machine outside the body. 

Targeted therapy

In a targeted therapy, specific medicines are given which attack cancer cells without harming normal cells by targeting a few specific genes, some proteins, or the tissues. The medicines restrict the growth of tumor cells and limit any damage to healthy cells. Sometimes, the cells repair themselves during interaction with other cells.

Cetuximab, one of the famous targeted medicines, is a monoclonal antibody which simply binds to a surface protein of cancer cells and hinders their growth. Cetuximab is often injected in combination with radiation therapy.


Immunotherapy is also known as biologic therapy. Immunotherapy enhances the body's natural defense mechanism. Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo) are two commonly used immunotherapy drugs which are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat people with metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). 

About Author:

Sarita Thomas, is a senior microbiologist and is associated with DiseaseFix as a researcher. DiseaseFix develops health information modules for patients and provides a unique platform to allow access of reliable information of a variety of types for diseases.

Sponsor Ads

About Disease Fix Junior   Largest Disease Information Center

3 connections, 0 recommendations, 15 honor points.
Joined APSense since, June 12th, 2017, From New Delhi, India.

Created on Jul 24th 2018 02:54. Viewed 272 times.


No comment, be the first to comment.
Please sign in before you comment.