Targeted radiation therapy for head and neck cancers has improved outcomes and even saved lives. However, in addition to damaging cancer cells, the therapy also can injure surrounding tissues. This may include important arteries and veins in your neck or in other areas where radiation treated your cancer.
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This damage can limit blood flow in these affected blood vessels and may cause vascular disease. Over time, this limited blood flow can put you at risk for stroke if it occurs in the arteries leading to your brain. It could even cause other health problems, explains Daniel Clair, MD, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Vascular Surgery.
Treatment options available
While many physicians who see patients with this problem get concerned because of their limited exposure to treating it, vascular specialists in Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Vascular Surgery are up to the challenge. They can provide a number of options to help patients — including newer, minimally invasive techniques, and when warranted, traditional open surgery, Dr. Clair says.