Radiation Therapy for

Head & Neck Cancer

Delivering my very best expertise with compassion and dignity.

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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 common 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?

Prostate cancer radiation treatment is an option recommended for patients diagnosed with prostate cancer. It uses high-energy X-rays generated from a radiation therapy machine called a LINAC to destroy cancer cells. Prostate cancer radiation treatment has long been used to kill tumours without the need for surgical operations. It inhibits cancer cells from multiplying by delivering ionising radiation to destroy cancer cells, whilst minimising radiation damage to normal tissues. When these cancer cells die, the body naturally eliminates them. Healthy normal tissues are then able to repair themselves in a way that cancer cells cannot, leading to a much higher proportion of tumour cell death compared to normal cells.

How is Radiation Therapy done?

Consultation

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.

Treatment

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.

Follow-Up

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 drjohanntang@gmail.com

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.

"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 drjohanntang@gmail.com

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ME Novena Specialist Group
@ Mt. Elizabeth Novena Hospital
Address: 38 Irrawaddy Road
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ME Novena Specialist Group
Pte Ltd @ Proton Therapy SG
Address: Amnios Building
1 Biopolis Drive,
#01-01
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8:30am – 1:00pm Sun & Public Holidays: Closed