Treatment is determined by the stage of the disease at which it is discovered. Radiation therapy, with or without surgery, is the most common treatment option. Chemotherapy is usually used in conjunction with other treatments, such as adjuvant, neoadjuvant, or concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CRT). Patients with recurring cancer may benefit from systemic chemotherapy.
Treatment of the oropharynx using radiation therapy (or radiotherapy)
Radiation therapy involves the use of high-energy X-ray beams to cause direct damage to the tumour cells' DNA. Radiation disables their ability to divide quickly, delaying or preventing cancer growth in the process.
Oropharyngeal carcinoma early-stage Treatment
- Patients with stage 1 and 2 oropharyngeal carcinomas are considered early.
- These tumours can be treated with or without concomitant chemotherapy and final radiation.
- When compared to RT, surgery has a higher rate of morbidity. As a result, in many circumstances, RT is preferable over surgery.
- In most cases, a total dosage of 66Gy to 70Gy at 2Gy/fx once daily, 5 days a week for 6 to 7 weeks is administered to both the main tumour and the bilateral neck.
- If patients are treated with surgery first, post-operative RT with weekly concomitant chemotherapy is recommended in patients with positive margins and other high-risk factors.
Treatment for oropharyngeal cancer that has spread locally
- Patients with stage 3 and 4 oropharyngeal cancer have advanced oropharyngeal cancer locally. These patients necessitate the involvement of a multidisciplinary team.
- For the majority of patients, definitive chemoradiotherapy is the treatment of choice.
- Chemoradiotherapy allows for the maintenance of the organ's functionality.
- Concurrent chemoradiotherapy is the usual treatment for patients with unresectable tumours.
Recurrent or metastatic oropharyngeal cancer treatment
- Patients who have a recurrence of cancer may be administered radiotherapy.
- Chemotherapy with platinum combination regimens is offered if the patient has not had any systemic therapy and is in good health.
- Single-agent chemotherapy treatment can be prescribed for individuals who have never had systemic therapy and are in poor general health.
- Further chemotherapy or immunotherapy is recommended for patients who have received systemic chemotherapy.
- Patients are encouraged to participate in clinical trials whenever possible.
- The prognosis for these patients is poor, with a median survival time of 6 to 12 months.