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The head and neck are a diverse region of the body that include the larynx, trachea, oral cavity, tongue, pharynx (throat), nasopharynx, salivary glands and thyroid. Tumors that develop in these areas are normally squamous cell carcinomas, which begin as cancerous growths in the squamous cells that make up most of the respiratory and digestive tracts. If detected early, head and neck cancer often may be treated successfully. These cancers may be particularly difficult for patients because they can impact speech, sight and cause disfigurement. Swallowing and the sense of smell also may be impacted.
Typically, LDR (lose dose rate) brachytherapy is a recommended treatment for this region and is delivered via a procedure known as an interstitial implant. This is a complex brachytherapy, which requires the patient to be under general anesthesia in an operating room. The personalized treatment plan may call for the patient to remain hospitalized for up to five days while treatment is administered. Most patients receive six to 10 treatments.