Proton therapy for head and neck tumors

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Proton therapy for head and neck cancers

Proton therapy allows for effective treatment of head and neck cancers while delivering a lower dose of radiation to normal, adjacent structures, leading to fewer side effects and potentially better outcomes.

Tumors in the head and neck, such as those in the nasal cavity or salivary glands, are often close to critical organs that are very sensitive to the effects of radiation, including the brain, brainstem, spine and salivary glands. With proton therapy, the radiation beam can be directed to a precise location, radiation exposure to critical organs is minimized and the dose can be maximized, potentially improving outcomes and survival rates.

Learn more about how proton therapy works.

Fewer side effects with Proton Therapy

Proton particles do not deposit an exit dose, which means radiation exposure to healthy organs and tissues is minimized with proton therapy. This reduction in toxicity means lower rates of nausea, mucositis (mouth ulcers) and dysphagia (swallowing problems).  Studies have shown proton therapy can prevent weight loss associated with conventional radiation therapy, and results in lower opioid use and less dependence on a feeding tube for nutrition.

Effective treatment of recurrent head and neck cancers

For recurrent head and neck cancers requiring radiation therapy, proton therapy can deliver a maximized, focused dose of radiation to the tumor while minimizing exposure to tissues and organs that may have previously been radiated.  Proton therapy for head and neck tumors is ideal for patients who are at risk of serious complications because high cumulative radiation doses to critical organs and tissue.

Head and neck tumors treated by proton therapy include:

  • nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  • paranasal sinus
  • adenoid cystic carcinomas
  • major salivary glands (paratoid, submandibular and sublingual)