Each and every week I hear the same questions from my patients with cancer of the head and neck. “Doctor, do I really need to have all 33 treatments? This is really hard. Haven’t we done enough? Can’t I just quit?”
My answer is almost always the same. “It’s not a good idea. You’ve come this far. Quitting now puts your chances of a cure at risk. You really need to complete every one of the treatments.”
Now there is an important study that supports my answer. In the study of 8.388 Medicare patients with advanced cancer of the throat or larynx (voice box), the important result was that patients who did not complete chemotherapy and radiation therapy did worse than patients who did. Much worse, in fact.
The second important finding was the patients who completed chemotherapy and radiation therapy did just as well as those patients who had surgery. The surgery for advanced larynx cancer is called a laryngectomy that involves removing the voice box permanently. The study was published about one year ago in the prestigious journal titled Cancer.
So finishing those last few treatments of chemotherapy and radiation therapy-admittedly the hardest part of the process-really is important for your survival. It’s also the time where an experienced radiation doctor and support team, including the chemotherapist, radiation therapists, swallowing therapist and oncology nurses- are really crucial. The management of side effects is key. This is why having a dedicated team of experts who focus on you is so important to me as a physician.
If you have any questions about your head and neck cancer, please feel free to call me, Dr. Edward Hughes at 1-855-DAYTON1. I guarantee that I will see you in consultation in 1-3 days of your phone call. And when you call us, you’ll talk to directly to my team who work beside me; not a call center.