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Radiation therapy for head and neck cancer

Radiation therapy for head and neck cancer

Both of our patient advocates, Julie and Roisin, had radiation therapy treatment for different forms of head and neck cancer. In this video, we’ve looked at this process and what to expect.

One part of the process, unique to head and neck cancer, is the thermoplastic mask that patients wear during treatment.

Making a mask

As we saw from the video, patients who have radiation therapy for head and neck cancers, will have a mask created for them by a Radiation Therapist.

The mask does not protect you from radiation, rather it is to keep you as still as possible during the treatment.

Radiation therapists are very skilled in creating these masks and understand that some patients may be quite anxious or claustrophobic about having the mask made. Making the mask does not hurt, and feels like a warm cloth being placed over your face. It can feel unusual when it begins to harden however it does not hurt in any way.

A patient wearing a mask undergoing radiation therapy

Most masks are made from a thermoplastic material that is heated in a water bath or an oven type device. The soft thermoplastic material is gently draped over your face and neck and moulded to the shape of your head.

Each mask is a perfect fit for each individual patient.

This article is from the free online

An Introduction to Radiation Oncology: From Diagnosis to Survivorship

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