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Sarcoma of the Head and Neck Treatment

Our sarcoma specialists are nationally recognized for their expertise and personalized attention, and have a breadth of experience treating the most difficult cases of sarcoma of the head and neck. We offer the most advanced diagnostic testing, treatments and latest technology to ensure you receive the best possible outcome

Treatment and management of sarcoma will usually consist of a combination chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. Some sarcomas are resistant to radiation therapy. In these cases, first line treatment is either chemotherapy or surgery (or a combination of both). Depending on the type and stage of sarcoma, chemotherapy may be given prior to surgery. This is called neoadjuvant (induction) chemotherapy.

Sarcoma of the head and neck can be treated with the following minimally invasive surgical techniques, radiation therapies and targeted therapies:

  • TORS
  • Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
  • Proton therapy
  • Targeted Molecular Therapy

Treating Sarcoma of the Head and Neck With TransOral Robotic Surgery (TORS)

(TORS) is the world's first minimally invasive robotic surgery technique that enables surgeons to remove benign and malignant tumors of the head and neck.

TORS was invented and developed at Penn Medicine by the pioneering team of Bert W. O'Malley, Jr., MD and Gregory S. Weinstein, MD.

There are many benefits of TORS for patients:

  • TORS allows individuals with sarcoma of the head and neck to avoid radiation therapy altogether or decreases the intensity, avoiding side effects of treatment. Following TORS, about 605 of patients are able to avoid both radiation and chemotherapy. The remaining 40 percent are able to undergo a significantly reduced amount of radiation therapy.
  • Quicker return to normal activity
  • Shorter hospitalization
  • Fewer complications compared to traditional open surgery
  • Less scarring than traditional open surgery
  • Less risk of infection
  • Less risk of blood transfusion when compared to open surgery

Treating Sarcoma of the Head and Neck With Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

Using 3-D computed tomography (CT) images of the patient along with computerized dose calculations, IMRT allows for the radiation dose to conform more precisely to the three-dimensional shape of the tumor by controlling — or modulating — the intensity of the radiation beam. The therapy allows higher radiation doses to be delivered to regions within the tumor while minimizing the dose to the surrounding area.

Treating Sarcoma of the Head and Neck With Proton Therapy

At the Roberts Proton Therapy Center, we offer the largest and most advanced facility in the world for this precise form of cancer radiation. You will have access to one of the most sophisticated weapons against cancer, seamlessly integrated with the full range of oncology services available at the Abramson Cancer Center. Proton therapy is external beam radiotherapy in which protons are directed at a tumor.

The radiation dose that is given through protons is very precise, and limits the exposure of normal tissues. This allows the radiation dose delivered to the tumor to be increased beyond conventional radiation. The result is a better chance for curing cancer with fewer harmful side effects.

Proton therapy, like all forms of radiation therapy, works by aiming the energized particles, in this case protons, onto the target tumor. The particles damage the DNA of cells, ultimately causing their death. Unlike X-rays, protons can be manipulated to release most of their energy only when they reach their target. With more energy reaching the cancerous cells, more damage is administered by each burst of radiation.

Treating Sarcoma of the Head and Neck With Targeted Molecular Therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Penn Medicine researchers and cancer specialists are pioneers in the development and use of targeted therapies and are backed by robust programs to further research in the treatment of sarcoma of the head and neck.