Cancer Support Group

Wednesday, Apr 14th

Last update:06:42:40 AM GMT

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Oral Cancer Treatment

  • The treatment for oral cancer depends on a number of factors. Among them are the location, size, type and extent of the tumor and stage of the disease. Your doctor also considers your age and general health. Treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy or a combination. You also may receive chemotherapy, or treatment with anticancer drugs.
  • For most patients, it is important to have a complete dental exam before cancer treatment begins. Because cancer treatment may make the mouth sensitive and more easily infected, doctors often advise to have dental work done before treatment begins.
  • Surgery: Surgery for tongue cancer depends on the tumor's size, type, location, and depth. If the tumor extends deeply to involve the underlying muscle, the surgeon may remove the nearby neck lymph nodes. If the disease has spread to muscles and other tissues in the neck, the operation may be more extensive. For larger tumors, surgeons use the latest techniques to minimize the loss of function of the tongue and surrounding structures.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, is the use of high–energy X–rays, electron beams, or radioactive isotopes to damage cancer cells and stop them from growing. Like surgery, radiation therapy is local therapy, affecting only the cells in the treated area. The energy may come from a large machine, or external radiation. Patients with large tumors may need both surgery and radiation therapy.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy, taken by mouth or given through a vein, involves the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. Medical oncologists administer chemotherapy when the oral tongue cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs in the body. Researchers are looking for effective drugs or drug combinations to treat oral cancer. They are also exploring ways to combine chemotherapy with other forms of cancer treatment to help destroy the tumor and prevent the disease from spreading.
  • Reconstructive Surgery: Depending upon the size, location, and spread of the cancer, the treatment team may determine that reconstructive surgery is necessary.
  • Rehabilitation: Patients who need rehabilitation after surgery or radiation therapy will find help from specialists in dietetics, speech therapy, swallowing therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy.
  • Treatment for leukoplakias or erythroplakias may include use of retinoids–medications which are related to vitamin A–to eliminate, reduce, and/or prevent dysplasia from forming.


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