Radiation to the head and neck is used to treat the following cancers: brain cancer, nasal and sinus cancer, nasal cancer, oral cancer, neck cancer, laryngeal cancer, and salivary gland and thyroid cancer.
Treatment with Radiation
The patient’s head and neck will be positioned and a plastic mask may be used to hold the head and neck steady during treatment. The doctor will carry out the radiation therapy according to the treatment plan established. The type of radiation and the duration of the treatment will vary depending on the technique used. Radiation therapy takes approximately two to 10 minutes, and including preparing the patient, the procedure can take between 15 to 25 minutes. Radiation therapy is carried out five times a week, lasting a total of five to eight weeks, depending on the type of cancer and the treatment plan created by the doctor.
Common Side Effects and Management
|Skin redness, dryness, or itching
||- Expose the skin to as much air as possible, but avoid sunlight.
- Skin can be exposed to water, but be sure to dry it with a soft cloth.
- Don’t use soap, perfume, power, or cosmetics on the skin; only apply the medication prescribed by the doctor.
|Sore throat, dry mouth, and taste alteration
||- Sip water often.
- Maintain good oral health by brushing your teeth with a soft toothbrush and flossing regularly. Clean dentures after every meal. Avoid the mouthwash that is sold at the stores.
- Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, eating spicy food or food that is too hold or too cold. Eat soft, bland, well-cooked food that is easy to swallow.
- If side effects are severe please contact the doctor immediately.
||- Rest as much as possible.
- Eat nutritious foods.
- Reduce stress.
- In general fatigue will slowly go away on its own after radiation therapy is completed. If side effects are severe, please contact the doctor immediately.
Other side effects may occur on the area where radiation is targeted, depending on each patient. Please consult the referring doctor with any questions and/or concerns.