Head and Neck Cancer Treatment
Head and neck cancer includes a group of various malignant tumors that develop in the mouth, throat, larynx, sinuses, and nose, or in the tissues surrounding these organs. At Sheba Medical Center, an experienced team of multidisciplinary experts, including ENT physicians (ear, nose, and throat specialists), head and neck surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, imaging specialists, and pathologists evaluate each patient’s condition to design the most suitable, personalized treatment program.
What diseases do we treat?
At Sheba, we treat the five primary types of head and neck cancer, each named according to the part of the body in which they originate:
- Laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer (larynx) – the larynx, better known as the voice box, is a tube-shaped organ located at the top of your trachea (windpipe). It is essential for swallowing, breathing, and talking. Surrounding the larynx at the lower part of the throat is the hypopharynx.
- Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer – the nasal cavity is located behind the nose, where air passes on the way to the throat. Surrounding the nasal cavity are the paranasal sinuses.
- Nasopharyngeal cancer (pharynx) – behind the nose, at the upper part of the throat, is the nasopharynx.
- Oral and oropharyngeal cancer (lips and oral cavity) – the oropharynx includes the middle of the throat, spanning from the tonsils to the tip of the voice box; the oral cavity includes the tongue and mouth.
- Salivary gland cancer – saliva, the fluid that helps to keep your mouth moist and contains enzymes that start the process of breaking down food, is produced by the salivary gland.
What treatments do we offer?
When our specialists custom tailor each treatment program for head and neck cancer, they aim to eradicate the tumor and prevent it from recurring. The size and location of the tumor, stage of disease, and overall health are all factored into the decision about the most effective treatment. We also strive to optimize recovery by considering the long-term effects of treatment, such as ingestion, ability to chew, and speech.
Treatment options include:
- Surgery – this is the primary treatment method for head and neck cancer, especially when the tumor is small and has not spread to the lymph nodes. Following surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be used to destroy any remaining cancer cells and reduce the rate of recurrence. Sheba offers sentinel lymph node biopsies and the latest, cutting-edge robotic surgery techniques.
- Chemotherapy – chemotherapy drugs are used to destroy cancer cells by disrupting the process of cancer cell growth.
- Radiotherapy – radiation therapy administers high-intensity energy rays to destroy cancer cells, causing minimal damage to healthy tissue. Radiotherapy may be used for early-stage tumors that fully respond to radiation, thereby avoiding surgery. It may also be delivered in combination with chemotherapy to avoid surgical resection and preserve specific organs (such as the throat or pharynx). Sheba uses sophisticated radiation technologies, such as VMAT, IMRT, and RAPIDARC to precisely orient the beams.
- Targeted therapy – targeted therapy works by targeting particular genes in the cancer cells, ending their growth process. This therapy limits damage to the body’s healthy cells.
Eran Alon, MD
Director, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
Director, Pediatric Otolaryngology Service
Dr. Alon specializes in adult and pediatric otolaryngology and works primarily in the field of surgery. He is a world-class expert in head and neck oncology and microvascular reconstructive surgery of the face, head, and neck. Dr. Alon founded the Plastic Microsurgery Service at Sheba. He is a member of many professional medical associations and has received numerous international awards in healthcare.
Sheba Medical Center
Eran Alon, MD
Ran Yahalom, MD
Director, Department of Maxillofacial Surgery
Dr. Yahalom is a leading Israeli expert in the field of maxillofacial surgery. He specializes in removing tumors of the jaw and face, treating injuries and fractures of the facial bones, surgery of the temporomandibular joint, congenital abnormalities of the face and jaw, and tooth implantation. Dr. Yahalom received his medical degree from the Hadassah Medical School at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and then completed an internship in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Sheba Medical Center and an internship in maxillofacial reconstruction at the Hospital of Basel, Switzerland.
Zvi Symon, MD
Director, Radiation Oncology Department
Prof. Symon completed his medical degree and specialization in internal medicine at the Hadassah Medical School at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He then specialized in oncology and radiotherapy at the Hadassah Hospital and at Sheba Medical Center. He completed his fellowship in radiation oncology, with a focus on brachytherapy for prostate cancer and gynecologic tumors. A leading physician, Prof. Symon has published over 90 papers and articles in scientific journals. He is the director of Radiation-Oncology Department.
Holistic Healthcare & Quality of Life
A diagnosis of cancer in the head or neck can be devastating and have serious effects on your ability to live normally. Surgery can leave patients with major cosmetic defects, as well as structural and functional challenges. At Sheba, we strive to restore each patient to his or her previous whole self. A team of plastic surgeons, head and neck surgeons, and maxillofacial surgeons collaborate to design the most effective reconstructive surgery possible – enhancing appearance and normal function. As an integral part of holistic healing, we also offer compassionate support services on-site, such as psychologists, rehabilitation therapists, and social workers.
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