Facebook Pixel

The Changing Face of Head and Neck Cancers

By August 12, 2014 - 3:07pm
Brain Cancer related image
Conventional knowledge suggests that HPV-related cancers actually start forming years before they are diagnosed, said Hoffman.

General symptoms may include:

  • Lump on the side of one's neck
  • Persistent sore throat and ear pain
  • Non-healing sore in one's mouth on tongue, under tongue or on side of mouth
  • Progressive hoarseness
  • Chronic sinus infections or persistent sinus infection despite several courses of antibiotics
  • Persistent pain with swallowing 

If you or your dentist identify any of the above symptoms, it is important to see your doctor.

Treating head and neck cancers can be pretty tricky. For starters they are in a region where normal critical structures, such as the ears, eyes, brain and spinal cord are located. How do you get the right amount of radiation to the cancerous site without also radiating normal skin and organs around it?

A customized mesh mask is the answer. It’s molded from a soft, pliable, white or clear plastic to form-fit each cancer patient’s entire face. The mask, which sort of looks like a hockey face mask, will be used throughout the treatment process to not only protect the patient from receiving unnecessary radiation exposure to noncancerous areas, but also helps to keep the patient motionless during treatment.

mesh mask

Using mesh masks, also called radiotherapy moulds, for head and neck cancer treatments is the standard of care and is currently being widely used throughout the United States, Hoffman said.

Before a head and neck cancer patient starts a course of radiation, the mask is created for him or her during a procedure called CT simulation.

Read more in Roy & Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center

Roy & Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center

A Better Kind of Healing

A Better Kind of Healing

East Meets West in Treating Cancer

East Meets West in Treating Cancer

Tai Chi and Your Cancer Treatment

Tai Chi and Your Cancer Treatment

Understanding Cancer Patients’ Nutritional Needs

Understanding Cancer Patients’ Nutritional Needs

All in Roy & Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center

Add a Comment1 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Very helpful article. Thank you for sharing!!! I knew nothing about radiotherapy masks. Good to know.

April 9, 2015 - 9:18am
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.