Head & Neck Cancer

Head & neck cancer is an umbrella term for many different types of cancer arising within this area of the body, excluding the brain. The most common sites are the oral cavity, oropharynx (including base of tongue and tonsil), hypopharynx, larynx (voice box), nasopharynx and the sinuses.

Cure rates range from 20-95% depending on the site of the disease and the extent or stage at diagnosis.

Head & neck cancers are treated with combinations of treatments including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and biological or targeted therapies. As a clinical oncologist, Dr Newbold’s expertise lies in the non-surgical treatments.

Radiotherapy is the mainstay of non-surgical management of head & neck cancer. Due to the complex anatomy in the head & neck region of the body, advanced radiotherapy delivery techniques are employed, such as intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). These techniques aim to not only improve survival rates but also to reduce the side effects of radiotherapy thereby maximising quality of life after treatment.

Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid gland lies in the neck in front of the trachea (windpipe) and produces the hormone thyroxine. There are four main types of thyroid cancer: papillary (80%), follicular (10%), medullary (5%) and anaplastic (5%). Most thyroid cancers are extremely treatable with cure achievable in more than 95%.

Initial treatment includes surgery, radioiodine and suppression of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). In the case of advanced disease, targeted drug therapies called kinase inhibitors may be used.

Radioiodine treatment provides a method of delivering a very targeted radiation dose to any thyroid or thyroid cancer cells remaining after surgery. It is a very safe and effective treatment but does require an inpatient stay usually between 1 and 3 nights.

Suppression of TSH is achieved by carefully adjusting your thyroxine dose to the blood tests. This should not cause any side effects. Kinase inhibitors are oral medicines used for advanced thyroid cancer. These need careful monitoring initially but are generally tolerated well and have been shown to slow the progression of disease.

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