Head and Neck Cancer Chicago | Treatment Options | Chicago ENT

Head and Neck Cancer Treatments

How a physician decides to treat a particular case of head and neck cancer depends on the size of the tumor and whether cancer has spread. There are many treatment options for head and neck cancer, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Woman getting checked for head and neck cancer

  • Surgery to remove the tumor and affected tissues. Depending on the location of cancer, surgery may remove the vocal cords, larynx (voice box), thyroid gland, lymph nodes, and tissue in the lips or mouth. Surgery can be performed with a scalpel or laser beam. It also can be done robotically for greater precision. Side effects with surgery include swelling and a change in your ability to chew, swallow, or talk.
  • Radiation uses high-dose x-rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation can either be delivered from outside the body (external radiation) or from inside the body (internal radiation) using radioactive needles, seeds, or catheters. Because radiation will also damage the tissues surrounding the tumor, side effects can include redness or irritation, dry mouth, hair loss, nausea, and changes in taste.
  • Chemotherapy is medication given through a vein or by mouth that kills cancer cells throughout the body. Because it also destroys healthy cells, chemotherapy can have side effects such as the increased risk of infection, hair loss, and anemia.

Head and neck cancer treatment

Sometimes treatments are combined. For example, radiation may be given to shrink the tumor before surgery. Chemotherapy may be given after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that remain. New treatments are continually being developed to combat head and neck cancers. They include:

  • Cetumixab. This therapy is called a monoclonal antibody. It attaches to and blocks a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which may cause cancer cells to grow more aggressively. When given with radiation therapy, cetumixab may prolong survival.
  • Hyperthermia therapy. This treatment uses heat to kill cancer cells or to make the cells more responsive to radiation and chemotherapy.
  • Isotretenoin. This drug belongs to a class of medications called retinoids. Although it is typically used to treat acne, researchers are studying whether it might also help prevent head and neck cancer from returning.
  • Radiosensitizers. These drugs make tumor cells more sensitive to the effects of radiation and may be used along with radiation therapy to improve their effectiveness.


The prognosis for head and neck cancers depends on the size of the tumor and whether/how far cancer has spread. This will be determined using a staging system specific to the type of cancer. Cancers that are discovered and treated early as well as localized cancers typically have a better prognosis than those that have spread.


Chicago ENT has six convenient locations throughout the greater Chicago area. For the exact location and/or directions, simply click on the map next to your desired location. To book an appointment, call 773-296-5500 to speak to a scheduler or conveniently online 24/7.

Advanced Center for Specialty Care
3000 N. Halsted Street, Suite #400
Chicago, IL  60657

Phone: 773-296-5500

Office hours:
Monday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Tuesday 8:30 am – 6:30 pm
Wednesday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Thursday 8:30 am – 6:30 pm
Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Allergy Shot Clinic hours:
Monday 8:30 am -4 pm
Tuesday 8:30 am - 1:30 pm
Wednesday 12:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Thursday 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Friday 8:30 am - 1:00 pm
Saturday 9 am- 11:30 am
*Shot appointments are by appointment only
*All patient’s are required to wait 30 minutes after receiving allergy shot(s)

Map of the Chicago ENT Lincoln Park Location

St. Mary’s Hospital Professional Building
2222 W. Division Street,
Suite #330
Chicago, IL  60622

Phone: 773-296-5500
Map of the Chicago ENT Bucktown Location

8930 Gross Point Road,
Suite #700
Skokie, IL 60077

Phone: 773-262-4110
Map of the Chicago ENT Skokie Location

Our Chicago North Location is moving! Click here for more info!
Swedish Covenant Hospital
5140 N. California Avenue,
Suite #600
Chicago, IL 60625

Phone: 773-296-5500
Map of the Chicago ENT Chicago North Location

2522 W. Peterson Avenue
Chicago, IL 60659

Phone: 773-262-4110
Map of the Chicago ENT Peterson Location

St. Joseph Ascension Health Outpatient Pavilion
2845 N. Sheridan Rd,
Suite #807
Chicago, IL 60657

Phone: 773-296-5500
Map of the Chicago ENT Lakeview Location