Chemotherapy for Head and Neck Cancer

Chemotherapy for head and neck cancer is often recommended to target and destroy rapidly dividing cancer cells. This approach can be used to treat tumors that cannot be completely removed through surgery, or as an alternative to surgery if an operation could result in a significant functional impairment, such as the loss of a patient’s natural voice. Chemotherapy has also been shown to enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy. Because many types of head and neck cancer can be managed and even cured, early detection and prompt treatment that is individualized to a patient’s needs are of paramount importance.

Cancer that originates in the head or neck can sometimes enter the lymphatic system through nearby lymph nodes and then spread to distant organs and tissues. When injected directly into a vein or swallowed in pill or capsule form (systemic chemo), chemotherapy drugs can enter a patient’s bloodstream to reach and destroy cancer cells located throughout the patient’s body.

Some of the chemotherapy drugs that are commonly prescribed for treating head and neck cancer include:

  • Cisplatin
  • Fluorouracil
  • Methotrexate
  • Carboplatin
  • Paclitaxel
  • Docetaxel
  • Cetuximab

Patients who undergo chemotherapy at Moffitt Cancer Center can feel confident that they will receive the most effective drugs and drug combinations available. Through extensive research efforts, our scientists and clinicians are continually evaluating new and better treatment options for head and neck cancer. Our multispecialty team of experts takes a bench-to-bedside approach, quickly incorporating our laboratory breakthroughs into our patients’ treatment plans. We also regularly offer investigational therapies to eligible patients through clinical trials. As a result, our patients benefit from new treatments as soon as they become available. This is just one of the many reasons why our patient outcomes consistently outrank the national average and our patients have the best possible quality of life.

Chemotherapy for head and neck cancer is available at all Moffitt locations. If you’d like to learn more, we provide consultations with or without referrals. Call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete a new patient registration form online.