Medical Treatment of Head and Neck Cancer

For some head and neck cancer patients, chemotherapy – the use of cancer-killing drugs – is the best course of treatment before or after surgery or radiation therapy.

UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center’s experienced medical oncologists – physicians who specialize in treating cancer with chemotherapy – include doctors who exclusively offer head and neck cancer medical treatment. They are experts in the latest approaches and in many cases have participated in research and clinical trials that have helped bring these new medical treatments to our patients.


The objective of chemotherapy is to shrink any remaining tumor and kill far-flung cancer cells that could cause the cancer to recur. In these cases, this “clean-up” approach lowers recurrence rates and improves survival in patients with head and neck cancers.

Chemotherapy also is used to treat some patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancers – those cancers that have returned to the same site or spread to distant parts of the body.

Chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy (chemoradiation) is sometimes the most appropriate treatment for head and neck cancer, such as in cases of localized tumors that could not be completely removed surgically. This nonsurgical approach allows vitals structures such as the tongue to remain intact.

Chemoradiation also may be the best course of treatment for patients who wish to avoid surgery altogether.

Clinical Trials

Many patients can participate in clinical trials conducted at UT Southwestern to gain access to new medical treatments and to further research of the disease.

One particular area of research in our head and neck cancer clinical trials is using drugs to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight cancer. These clinical trials are open to many different head and neck cancer types, including thyroid cancer, and in many cases were designed by UT Southwestern oncologists.

Ask your doctor if a clinical trial is right for you.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a head and neck cancer specialist, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.

Our Head and Neck Cancer Medical Treatment Specalists