Head and Neck Cancer

Gamma West Head and Neck Cancer Treatment
The problem with treating head and neck cancer with radiation therapy is the potential to damage the brain, eyes and other organs or tissues close to the tumor. For example, what if treating a sinus tumor severely damages a patient’s optic nerve? Fortunately TomoTherapy’s stereotactic radiosurgery capabilities reduce that risk by directing more of the radiation into the tumor while scattering less damaging energy to the surrounding organs.

Stereotactic Treatment
At Gamma West in Salt Lake City, head and neck cancer is treated with stereotactic radiosurgery using the Accuray® TomoTherapy treatment system. This type of radiation “surgery” is not really surgery at all, but a highly precise way of beaming radiation to a very small area. This way only the cancer is treated, leaving other surrounding structures undamaged and able to function normally.

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Nasal and Sinus Cancer
Tumors can begin to grow in the air-filled spaces, or sinuses, that surround the nose and lie within the bones of the face. However, the eyes, optic nerves and the front of the brain are situated near the sinuses; and radiation directed at sinus tumors can also reach the brainstem, spinal cord and the parotid glands—large saliva producing glands.

Thanks to the development of TomoTherapy with stereotactic radiosurgery capability, our doctors can direct higher doses of radiation to kill the tumor cells while better protecting these surrounding organs.

Oral Cancer
Cancers in the mouth can lurk within the inner lining of the cheeks, the roof or floor of the mouth, or within the gum lines. Fortunately the mouth is located a little further from the eyes and brain, but we are always concerned about protecting the spinal cord when we treat oral cancer.

Thanks to the development of TomoTherapy with stereotactic radiosurgery capability, our doctors can direct higher doses of radiation to kill the tumor cells while better protecting these surrounding organs.

Cancer in the Throat: The Pharynx, Esophagus and Trachea
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The pharynx is the first part of the tube that joins the nose, mouth and throat with the esophagus, which leads to the stomach, and the trachea, which directs air to and from the lungs. Treating these can be tricky because they often reside close to the spinal cord.

Also within the throat, resides the voice box or larynx. It is located at the front of the neck, and in addition to its speaking function, it assists with eating by protecting the airway from food obstructions. Tumors can develop within this maze of tissue, and can spread to nearby organs including the thyroid and parathyroid as well as the esophagus and spinal cord.

Thanks to the development of TomoTherapy with stereotactic radiosurgery capability, our doctors can direct higher doses of radiation to kill the tumor cells while better protecting these surrounding organs.

Thyroid Cancer
The thyroid is a gland that sits atop the larynx, which produces the hormones involved in regulating energy use. Nodules, which are basically just small lumps, can grow inside the thyroid. About 10 percent of these are cancerous. The parathyroid glands (involved with calcium usage), trachea, esophagus and spinal cord, which all sit behind the thyroid, are the organs doctors must avoid over-exposing during radiation treatments.

Thanks to the development of TomoTherapy with stereotactic radiosurgery capability, our doctors can direct higher doses of radiation to kill the tumor cells while better protecting these surrounding organs.

TomoTherapy Treatment
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At Gamma West lung cancer is treated with the Accuray® TomoTherapy HiArt™ System — a cutting-edge radiation therapy. Traditional radiation therapy uses a wide beam and only a few angles to attack the cancer, which may cause harm to surrounding healthy tissue. In contrast, TomoTherapy divides the radiation beam into thousands of smaller beamlets. These beamlets are then sent through a 360-degree radius, basically running rings around the cancer and attacking if from all sides. The TomoTherapy system also uses a CT scanner to better pinpoint the tumor, so radiation affects far less healthy surrounding tissue.

Gamma West Is One of a Kind in Utah

Gamma West, located in Salt Lake City and areas around Utah, have been increasingly successful in treating head and neck cancers. Stereotactic radiosurgery is just one of the cancer fighting weapons in our arsenal. To schedule a consultation with one of our doctors or to find more information on this and other innovative cancer treatment solutions, call Gamma West Cancer Services at 801-350-8400.