Head and Neck Cancer is a generic term used to describe cancers that arise mainly in the throat and mouth plus those cancers in the sinuses, middle ear, nose or salivary glands.
Radiation Therapy is routinely used in the treatment of head and neck cancers. As with all Radiation Therapy, accurate positioning is critical to make sure that the tumor is treated successfully while protecting other sensitive structures close by. To help with this, historically a full-face thermoplastic mask has been used to help reduce movement and ensure that the head is in the same position each day. While this helps with accurate treatment, it can be claustrophobic, and studies have found that increased anxiety impacts around a quarter of head and neck patients undergoing Radiation Therapy.1 In centers that use AlignRT®, open face masks can be used. AlignRT® will track your position, actual head position, by observing you through the open portion of the mask. If any small movements are detected, the beam is paused until you return to the correct prescribed position. The open face mask treatments together with AlignRT® offer a more comfortable radiation treatment while making sure that the treatment is as accurate as treatments with a full-face mask.2,3
Nixon, J. L. et al. Exploring the prevalence and experience of mask anxiety for the person with head and neck cancer undergoing radiotherapy. Journal of Medical Radiation Sciences 0, doi:doi:10.1002/jmrs.308 (2018).
Li, G. et al. Migration from full-head mask to “open-face” mask for immobilization of patients with head and neck cancer. J Appl Clin Med Phys 14, 243-254, doi:10.1120/jacmp.v14i5.4400 (2013).
Wiant, D. et al. A prospective evaluation of open face masks for head and neck radiation therapy. Pract Radiat Oncol, doi:10.1016/j.prro.2016.02.003 (2016).