These answers to frequently asked questions can help you decide whether proton therapy for head and neck tumors is right for you. You can also contact us directly for more information.
Proton therapy is a noninvasive treatment option for many types of head and neck tumors including:
Proton therapy can be a primary treatment for these cancers or may be given in conjunction with surgery and/or chemotherapy.
Proton therapy can be an effective treatment for head and neck cancers because it can deliver a high dose of radiation to the tumor with extraordinary precision. Treating these tumors with conventional photon radiation therapy exposes the nearby healthy tissues—such as the oral mucosa, gums, salivary glands, jaw bones, swallowing muscles, voice box, eyes, ear canals, brain, brainstem and spinal cord—to more radiation and can increase the risk of late toxicities or developing a new cancer.
Side effects of proton therapy depend on the exact area of the body receiving treatment, the tumor size, and the types of healthy tissue near the tumor. The most common side effects of radiation therapy for head and neck tumors are skin reactions, dry mouth, and trouble swallowing. Your doctor will help manage any side effects during and after proton therapy.
Potentially—In some cases, patients who previously received radiation for a prior head and neck cancer may require a subsequent course of radiation in the same region. In these scenarios, proton therapy can be especially beneficial to significantly reduce the overlap of excess radiation to nearby normal tissues and organs. Reducing the cumulative dose to the normal tissues may reduce the risk of side effects, allowing for more radiation dose to be focused to the tumor, and for a better chance of a cure.
The number of treatments varies according to the unique characteristics of your tumor. Treatment is usually administered five days a week for one to seven weeks.
With an active research program, we are pleased to offer a growing number of clinical trials for a variety of cancers. We are currently enrolling eligible patients in five head and neck studies including:
Download a pdf about proton therapy for head and neck tumors.