Updated: May 2003
Chemotherapy may be part of either the curative or palliative treatment of patients with head and neck cancer. Used alone, chemotherapy has not been shown to cure established squamous cell carcinomas, however, when used concurrently with radiation it is has been shown to increase both control of disease in the head and neck and increase survival rates. In patients with incurable disease, chemotherapy may be sufficiently effective to produce a significant reduction in tumour size that will relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Several different drugs may be used either alone or in combination, the side effects will depend on the drugs that are used.