Treatment Options for Head and Neck Cancers

Head and neck cancer may be treated in different ways, depending on the type, location and stage of the cancer, your general health and what is important to you.

The key treatments for head and neck cancers are:

  • surgery – removes cancer or repairs a part of the body affected by cancer; often used as the main treatment for head and neck cancer
  • radiation therapy  the use of targeted radiation to kill or damage cancer cells; sometimes used as the main treatment for head and neck cancer
  • chemotherapy  the use of drugs that kill cancer cells or slow their growth; usually combined with radiation therapy, which is known as chemoradiation.

You may have one of these treatments, or a combination. Some people with advanced head and neck cancer have drug therapies known as targeted therapy and immunotherapy. You may also be able to have new treatments through clinical trials.

Treatment will be tailored to your individual situation. For complex Head and Neck cancer, treatment options should be discussed at a meeting of the multidisciplinary team (MDT)

Where research is taking place and new treatments have become available we have seen some of the highest survival rates in the world.

As well as advancements in improving current treatment options including more refined surgical techniques and targeted radiation to reduce harmful side effects, breakthroughs are currently being made across a whole range of areas. For example, new imaging techniques are being developed to help guide treatment choice and predict response, meanwhile virus therapies and new immunotherapy combinations are being developed and tested by researchers in the field.

See our research pages for more information on the projects that we are currently funding in order to develop innovative treatments to not only cure, but offer kinder options for head and neck cancer.