Chemotherapy uses anticancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy
cancer cells. These drugs reach cancer cells through the
bloodstream. The most common drugs used in the treatment of head
and neck cancer are cisplatin and fluorouracil (5-FU). Taxol (paclitaxel)
or Taxotere (docitaxel) may be used in clinical trials.
Chemotherapy may be given by injection into a vein or by tablets.
There are several situations in which chemotherapy may be used.
- If a patient has a tumour that is unlikely to be cured by
radiotherapy alone, chemotherapy may be used to reduce the size
of the tumour before radiotherapy or to try to avoid the need
- Chemotherapy may be given at the same time as
radiotherapy (known as
- Chemotherapy may be used to treat cancers that have spread
beyond the original site of the tumour, or returned following
surgery and/or radiotherapy.