Besides surgery, how else are head and neck cancers treated?

Chemo, Radiation. Besides surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are typically used. Radiation is used in both early as well advanced cancers while chemotherapy is used in advanced cancers and those cases where the cancer has recurred.
Combined treatment. Head and neck cancer patients are usually seen in a combined clinic with surgeons, radiation oncologist and medical oncologist. In most early cases, surgery may be adequate but in early throat cancer, radiation is preferred. In advanced cases, combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation may be required and the sequence is individualized.

Related Questions

Since surgery is a frequently used in treating head and neck cancers, is there a risk of disfigurement?

Yes. Unfortunately certain surgeries such as neck dissection, lip surgery, etc. Carry the risk of disfigurement. Discussing planned surgery with your surgeon and reconstructive options such as plastic surgery consultation is important. Certain surgeries can be avoided and treatment with combined chemotherapy & radiotherapy can be done instead. Read more...
Yes. You want to have an experienced surgeon who's "been there" many times before and can do the best job balancing doing a good cancer operation to rid you of disease with the least amount of collateral damage or disfigurement. In addition, a plastic surgeon sometimes participates in cases for expert reconstruction after a big cancer operation. Discuss this thoroughly with your head and neck surgeon. Read more...
Depends on surgery . The risk for disfigurement depends on the extent of the surgery. With modern advances in head and neck reconstruction, we have very good methods to fix the defect that the cancer removal causes. Non-surgical treatment options, while avoiding the risks of surgery, carry their own set of complications. Your head and neck surgeon should be able to help you with the various options. Read more...
Yes. Yes, significant risk, depending on the area of the cancer. The best way to treat these cancers would be at a major medical center, where cancer resection and reconstruction can often be done during the same procedure. In your area - Stanford Medical Center. Read more...
Unfortunately, yes. It is important that all cancerous tissue be removed to prevent recurrence, thus the removal of tumors can result in cosmetic (disfigurement) and functional (speech, swallowing and chewing) problems for patients. Read more...