Radiation Therapy for

Head & Neck Cancer

Delivering my very best expertise with compassion and dignity.


What are the types of head and neck cancers?

Head and neck cancers begin in the cells that line the inner surface of the head and neck area, and are further identified by the sites in which they begin.

  • Oral – Lips, front two-thirds of the tongue, gums, lining inside the cheeks, floor of the mouth under the tongue, the hard palate, and the small area behind the wisdom teeth.
  • Laryngeal – Cartilage and tissues located just below the pharynx in the neck, containing the voicebox.
  • Nasopharyngeal – Upper part of the pharynx, which is behind the nose.
  • Oropharyngeal – Middle part of the pharynx, includes back of pharynx, base of the tongue and the tonsils.
  • Hypopharyngeal – Lower part of the pharynx.

What are the signs and symptoms

  • Oral

    White or red patches, and ulceration on gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth, Swelling of the jaw, Unusual pain or bleeding

  • Laryngeal

    Prolonged throat pain when swallowing, Hoarseness of voice, Ear pain

  • Nasopharyngeal

    Frequent headaches, Nasal bleeding or blood in sputum, Pain or ringing in the ears or reduced hearing, Neck lump(s), Numbness in one side of the face

  • Oropharyngeal / Hypopharyngeal

    Ear or throat pain, Weight loss, Abdominal pain, Nausea and vomiting

What are the different types of treatment?

Treatment depends on the type of head and neck cancer, the stage of cancer as well as the general medical condition of the patient.

Oropharyngeal and Hypopharyngeal cancer

  • Radiation therapy, with or without chemotherapy, plays a major role in the treatment of cancers of the oropharynx and hypopharynx.
  • As these diseases are often diagnosed in more advanced stages, surgery may be needed but may cause excessive functional abnormality.

Nasopharyngeal cancer

  • Radiation therapy is the most important treatment method for nasopharyngeal cancer. Many patients may also benefit from the addition of chemotherapy to radiation therapy.
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer is highly curable with radiation therapy if discovered early.

Oral and Laryngeal cancer

  • Cancers originated from the larynx, lip and oral cavity including the tongue can be treated with surgery or radiation alone in their early stages.
  • Radiation therapy is often used with chemotherapy for advanced diseases, with or without surgery.

What is Radiation Therapy?

Radiation therapy treats cancer by using high-energy x-rays generated from a radiation therapy machine to destroy the cancer cells. It inhibits cancer cells from multiplying by delivering ionizing radiation to destroy cancer cells whilst minimizing radiation to normal tissues. When these cancer cells die, the body naturally eliminates them. Healthy tissue is then able to repair itself in a way cancer cells cannot, and this leads to a much higher proportion of tumour cell death compared to normal cells.

How is Radiation Therapy done?


The Radiation Oncologist determines the most appropriate method and discusses with you the treatment intent, schedule, risks and side-effects.

Mark-Up and Simulation

A CT scan of the treatment area will be obtained, while a face mask is used to ensure accurate positioning during your daily treatment.

Treatment Planning

A multidisciplinary team produces a customised treatment plan for you.


Radiation therapy for head and neck cancer is delivered daily (Mondays to Fridays) for two to seven weeks depending on the treatment intent (curative or palliative). Each treatment session lasts 20 to 25 minutes.


Your first follow-up appointment varies depending on how you do during treatment, and is usually about four to eight weeks after you have completed the course of radiation therapy.

What are the types of radiation therapy available for head & neck cancer?

3-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy (3DCRT)

3DCRT delivers very precise doses of radiation to the head and neck area and spares surrounding normal tissue through a machine called a linear accelerator.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

IMRT involves varying (or modulating) the intensity of the radiation being delivered during treatment. Compared to 3DCRT, this technique can deliver more tightly focused radiation beams to cancerous tumours while reducing the amount of radiation to surrounding healthy tissues.

"I guarantee my very best expertise delivered with compassion and dignity as we journey TOGETHER to BEAT this dreaded illness."

- Dr Johann Tang

Make An Enquiry

Got Queries? Book an appointment with Dr Johann Tang by filling up this form. We'll get on a call with you as soon as possible.

Prefer to talk? Call us directly at +65 6690 6811
or email us at [email protected]

What are the potential side effects?

You will experience minimal side effects in the first one to two weeks of your radiation therapy course. Many of these side effects will improve over time and some can be controlled with medication. Inform your doctor or nurse if you are experiencing any discomfort so they can help you better.

  • Redness, irritation and sores in the mouth
  • Dry and thickened saliva
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Change/loss in taste
  • Swelling of soft tissues
  • Change in texture of the skin
  • Fatigue

Late side effects, such as hardening of the neck skin, hearing loss or decrease in thyroid hormone levels, can concur months to years after treatment in some patients. There are other rare side effects, such as damage to nerves or the jaw bone, which may affect less than five percent of our patients.

Caring for yourself during and after Radiation therapy

  • Stop smoking

    Immediate benefits of less airway irritation with less cough and shortness of breath.

  • Stay active

    Even gently short bouts of activity helps! Improves mood, reduces fatigue, and helps with appetite.

  • Check your medications

    Inform your doctor if you are taking medications, to make sure that they are safe to use during radiation therapy.

  • Be careful caring for the affected area

    Avoid hot or cold packs and only use lotions and ointments after checking with your doctor or nurse. Clean the affected area with lukewarm water and mild soap

  • Enlist support

    Mental and emotional health is as important as physical health. It might be helpful to talk to counsellors or join a cancer support group.

  • Have a caregiver who can manage your care

    It is good to have someone who can help to keep track of hospital appointments and medications prescribed.

  • Rest well

    Get plenty of rest during treatment.

  • Eat well

    Avoid hot, spicy and acidic food. Eat soft food with a high liquid content eg. ice cream, congee or soup. Eat a balanced diet of small frequent meals.


About Dr Johann Tang

Senior Consultant Radiation Oncologist, Medical Director, MBBS (Aust), FRANZCR (Radiation Oncology)

Dr Tang obtained his medical degree from the University of Newcastle, Australia in 1998 and completed his house officer training at the Hunter Area Health Service, Australia before returning to Singapore to start his specialty training in Radiation Oncology at the National University Hospital (NUH). After obtaining his fellowship from the Royal Australian College of Radiologist (FRANZCR) in 2006, Dr Tang underwent fellowships in breast brachytherapy at University of Wisconsin and Arizona Breast Cancer Specialist Centre as well as prostate brachytherapy, skin and paediatric fellowships at Peter Maccallum Cancer Institute, Australia.

Why Choose Dr Johann Tang

Dr. Johann Tang is an experienced radiation oncologist who aims to deliver the highest level of care to his patients. e is dedicated to understanding each patient’s condition and provides holistic customized care that is both effective and compassionate. With ethics and empathy held at the core of our practice, we strive to understand your individual needs and provide care that is compassionate and responsive.

Experienced Radiation Oncologist

Dr. Johann Tang is a highly experienced radiation oncologist with several accolades to his name. Prior to entering private practice where he is currently a Senior Consultant and Medical Director. Dr Tang was at NUH for 18 years from 2001 to 2019. Dr Tang spearheaded and built up the breast brachytherapy (Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation APBI), outpatient interstitial image- guided cervical brachytherapy and paediatric radiotherapy services at NUH, to provide an array of the latest and best treatment options for patients. Dr. Tang is also passionately involved in research having authored numerous peer reviewed publications, and has won several research prizes.

Evidence-based Treatments

Dr. Johann Tang and his team utilizes technology that has proven to be effective in cancer treatment. Having decades of experience in treating and researching the disease has enabled Dr Tang to remain current and on top of best practice and novel techniques, providing his patients with full assurance that they are receiving the most effective treatment available.

Patient-centered Care

Dr Johann Tang’s patients are his top priority. He journeys with them from diagnosis till the completion of treatment. With Dr Tang, all patients can be fully assured that their clinical needs and well being are attended to.

"I guarantee my very best expertise delivered with compassion and dignity as we journey TOGETHER to BEAT this dreaded illness."

- Dr Johann Tang

Make An Enquiry

Got Queries? Book an appointment with Dr Johann Tang by filling up this form. We'll get on a call with you as soon as possible.

Prefer to talk? Call us directly at +65 6690 6811
or email us at [email protected]

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Contact Dr Johann Tang

ME Novena Specialist Group Pte Ltd
Mt. Elizabeth Novena Hospital
Address: 38 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore 329563
Telephone: +65 6690 6811
Fax: +65 6690 6828
Whatsapp: +65 9641 4747
Clinic Hours:

Mon – Fri: 8:30am – 5:30pm
Sat: 8:30am – 1:00pm
Sun & Public Holidays: Closed

Farrer Park Hospital
Address: 1 Farrer Park Station Road #07-14
Singapore 217562
Telephone: +65 6690 6811
Fax: +65 6690 6828
Whatsapp: +65 9641 4747
Clinic Hours:

Mon – Fri: 8:30am – 5:30pm
Sat: 8:30am – 1:00pm
Sun & Public Holidays: Closed