New treatments for head and neck cancers include the use of drugs that block the hormones that cause certain tumor cells to multiply. These treatments make the tumor more sensitive to radiation and increase the chance of a cure. Immunotherapy (a treatment that uses your own immune system to fight the disease) is rapidly evolving as an option. Immunotherapy drugs help your body produce cancer-fighting cells.
Many new therapies are focused on decreasing side effects of treatment while maintaining good cure rates. For example, newer chemotherapy drugs are being used that have less serious side effects, but still are effective in killing cancer cells.
Newer radiation techniques focus more energy on tumor cells and less on normal tissue, so that patients experience fewer side effects. And advanced surgical techniques can remove the cancer while allowing the patient to regain a more normal lifestyle after successful therapy.
There have also been breakthroughs in new ways of combining surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Your provider can tell you about the latest treatments for head and neck cancers.