The treatment of head and neck tumours is based on three key stages: surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Head and neck carcinomas include oral cavity, pharynx, larynx and less often, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses and salivary gland carcinomas.
Surgery is the primary treatment for tumours in their early stages. If it is carried out successfully, there is no remaining tumour after the surgery, and the patient will not require postoperative treatment.
In more advanced stages, surgery is the best method for tumour removal in patients who have operable tumorous relapses. Some of the most severe problems can be: inability to preserve organs such as the larynx or tongue, functional issues, neck problems, etc.
Surgery can be complemented with subsequent radiotherapy. The type of surgical operation varies depending on the location of the tumour and how advanced it is. Sometimes, it is carried out as an endoscopic operation and other times, as a traditional open surgery procedure. In specific situations, a wide variety of surgical instruments can be used, like a laser.
The Otorhinolaryngology Department at the Clínica Universidad de Navarra was the first Spanish centre to carry out transoral operations on advanced cancer of the larynx with robotic surgery, and has achieved some very pleasing results.