There are treatments for all patients with metastaticsquamous neck cancer with
occult primary. Two kinds of treatment are used:
Chemotherapy is being studied in clinical trials.
Surgery is a common treatment of metastatic neck cancer. A doctor may cut out
the lymph nodes that contain cancer and some of the healthy lymph nodes around
them (lymph node dissection).
Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink
tumors.Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external radiation
therapy) or from putting materials that produce radiation (radioisotopes)
through thin plastic tubes that are put into the area where the cancer cells
are found (internal radiation therapy). External radiation to the thyroid or
the pituitary gland may change the way the thyroid gland works. The doctor may
wish to test the thyroid gland before and after therapy to make sure it is
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be taken by
pill, or it may be put into the body by a needle in a vein or muscle.
Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drug enters the
bloodstream, travels through the body, and can kill cancer cells outside the
Treatment of metastatic squamous neck cancer with occult primary depends on how
many lymph nodes contain cancer, whether or not an original (primary) tumor is
found, and the patient’s age and overall condition.
Standard treatment may be considered because of its effectiveness in patients
in past studies, or participation in a clinical trial may be considered. Not
all patients are cured with standard therapy and some standard treatments may
have more side effects than are desired. For these reasons, clinical trials
are designed to find better ways to treat cancer patients and are based on the
most up-to-date information. Clinical trials are ongoing in some parts of the
country for metastatic squamous neck cancer. To learn more about clinical
trials, call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237);
TTY at 1-800-332-8615.
© Copyright 1996 - 2013 H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute