Deciding on a Treatment Plan

Before starting treatment, your doctor will make sure that the following steps are completed.

 Pre-treatment evaluation

  • A full history and physical examination, including a complete head and neck exam (mirror and fibreoptic exam if needed)
  • An evaluation by the members of a head and neck cancer team
  • A biopsy of the primary site or FNA of the neck to confirm a diagnosis of cancer
  • Testing for HPV
  • Imaging of the lungs to check for spread, if needed
  • Imaging of the primary tumour and the neck with CT and/or MRI
  • Maybe a PET-CT for advanced cancers
  • A dental evaluation, with or without jaw X-rays
  • Nutrition, speech and swallowing evaluation and maybe a hearing evaluation
  • Examination under anaesthesia with endoscopy if needed
  • Pre-treatment medical clearance and evaluation of medical conditions

Then your doctor will recommend a course of treatment for you, depending on several factors. Like with all cancers in the head and neck, there are three general therapeutic options to consider:

  • Surgical removal (with or without reconstruction)
  • Radiation (a few different types)
  • Medications (chemotherapy and biologic medications)

The treatment recommendations for throat cancers can vary by subsite, so see the article about your particular type of cancer for more information.