Photodynamic therapy In photodynamic therapy, a light-sensitive substance is injected into the tumor that stays longer in cancer cells than in normal cells. A laser is directed at the tumor, which destroys the cancer cells. Photodynamic therapy is currently used to relieve swallowing problems for a brief period; it is not a curative therapy.
Proton therapy. Proton radiation therapy can be used as a boost (part of treatment) to reduce normal tissue toxicity. It can be used as part of the treatment for some skull-base tumors (for example, nasopharynx, chordoma [a rare tumor that usually occurs in the spine and base of the skull], chondrosarcoma [a cartilage-based tumor]) to further limit the radiation dose to normal structures, such as the optic nerves and brainstem.
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HPV. Research continues regarding the link between HPV and head and neck cancers, both in terms of why this virus raises the risk for the disease and why it may affect treatment results in some cases. Investigation is also underway about whether the HPV vaccine, currently used to prevent cervical cancer, is effective in preventing head and neck cancers as well.
In addition, there are many valuable, ongoing investigations of new types of chemotherapy and multi-modality studies (where more than one treatment approach is used).
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