Pharmaceutical tumor therapy
In addition to surgery and radiation therapy, malignant tumors in the ENT area can also be treated with chemotherapy, i.e. drug therapy. These substances work throughout the body. This has the advantage that tumor cells can be eliminated throughout the body and not just locally. The disadvantage is that side effects can also occur throughout the body.
A distinction is made between various therapy concepts. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy takes place before a planned operation. They serve to shrink the tumor. In some cases, this can enable smaller, more tolerable operations. This form of chemotherapy is currently only used in studies.
Adjuvant chemotherapy is used for large tumors following an operation to minimize the risk of recurrence.
Palliative chemotherapy is used for tumor diseases that are no longer curable. Their aim is to slow down further tumor growth. A temporary reduction in size of the tumor is also often possible. This can extend overall survival.
In the ENT area, a basic distinction is made between classic chemotherapeutic agents and immunotherapy. Classic chemotherapeutic agents (“cytostatics”) basically hinder cell division. This works much better with degenerate cells (tumor cells), in which the repair mechanisms only function to a limited extent, than with healthy cells.
Immunotherapeutics can activate defense cells in the body. These can then recognize tumor cells better and eliminate them more effectively.
As part of our interdisciplinary head and neck tumor board, we discuss which therapy is most suitable for each patient.