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Radiation for Head & Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancers can present challenges for radiation oncologists, as the tissues that require treatment are typically extremely close to other healthy organs that need to be preserved. For example, treating a sinus with radiation could put the optic nerve (and a patient’s eyesight) at risk; treating the thyroid could damage the spinal cord.

One way radiation oncologists at Jordan Valley Cancer Center work through these challenges is by using one of the most sophisticated radiation technologies in the world, Elekta Versa HD, utilizing VMAT (Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy).  Elekta VMAT allows target dose delivery to be optimized to each individual patient’s needs and their pathology.  In this way, it provides highly personalized patient treatment and opens up new treatment opportunities.  Through a unique partnership with Gamma West Cancer Services, Jordan Valley Cancer Center is revolutionizing the way head and neck cancers are treated.

Benefits of Elekta Versa HD and VMAT for Head & Neck Cancer

The Elekta Versa HD utilizes many sophisticated systems to target Cancer.  KV Cone Beam allows radiation therapists to obtain accurate images of patient anatomy.  These images are then utilized to obtain submillimeter accuracy.  Exact patient positioning is enhanced via a computer-controlled robotic table.  The HexaPod table has six degrees of freedom and can correct for roll, pitch and yaw.  This allows for the most highly aligned and targeted radiation possible with maximum preservation of surrounding healthy tissues.

  • Radiation is targeted based on that day’s CT scan – not a scan that is days or weeks old.
  • 360º delivery of radiation with the linear accelerator (LINAC). In addition to improving effectiveness, this helps reduce the risk of short- and long-term side effects.
  • Patented multi-leaf collimator (MLC) splits radiation beams into tens of thousands of tiny beamlets, which are software-engineered to maximize effectiveness and minimize risk.
  • Elekta VMAT allows treatment times to be reduced significantly compared to conventional delivery and helical tomotherapy.

Elekta HD and VMAT Applications In Head & Neck Cancers

Elekta VMAT may be used for the following head and neck cancers. This list is not comprehensive. Ask your oncologist at Jordan Valley Cancer Center for more information about Elekta HD and VMAT for treating cancer:

  • Nasal and Sinus Cancer: Cancers in these pockets near the front of the face can be very close to the eyes, optic nerves and front of the brain. Some sinus tumors may be close to the spinal cord or parotid glands, which are large saliva-producing glands. Treatment can be risky with traditional radiation therapy. While no treatment can completely eliminate risk, Elekta VMAT does offer physicians a greater opportunity to target the cancer while protecting all of the healthy structures around the nasal and sinus cavities.
  • Oral Cancer: Many oral cancers are further away from the structures that could be a concern when treating nasal and sinus cancer; however, treating oral cancers does require the physician to take certain precautions for protecting the spinal cord. Elekta VMAT allows radiation oncologists to effectively treat oral cancers while protecting the spinal cord.
  • Throat Cancers (Pharynx, Esophagus and Trachea): The pharynx connects the esophagus to the nose and mouth; the esophagus connects the throat to the stomach; and the trachea allows air to pass into the lungs. These tissues, along with the throat, larynx and other structures are in very close proximity to one another. Treating these cancers with Elekta VMAT allows physicians to carefully target the cancerous cells while preserving the tissues that should not receive radiation.
  • Thyroid Cancer: The thyroid produces hormones that regulate energy use throughout the body. Small nodules may appear on the thyroid; sometimes, these nodules are cancerous and require treatment. Radiation oncologists at Jordan Valley Cancer Center aim to treat these cancerous cells while preserving the parathyroid glands, trachea, spinal cord and esophagus, all of which are situated directly behind the thyroid.

Radiation Therapy for Head & Neck Cancer In West Jordan, UT

Physicians at Jordan Valley Cancer Center take an integrative approach to head and neck cancer treatment. The collaborative nature of our facility, which unites the strengths of medical, surgical and radiation oncologists under one roof, helps ensure patients receive treatment plans that are custom tailored for their needs. To learn more about our process, which includes pairing each patient with a Nurse Navigator who can provide education, resources and guidance, please contact us by calling 801-601-2260. Jordan Valley Cancer Center serves patients in West Jordan, Millcreek, Salt Lake City, UT, and beyond.