Dr, What are the treatment of oral cancer?

What are the treatments of Oral Cancer?

If you are diagnosed with oral cancer, your doctor will discuss the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including the type and stage of the cancer and your general health. 

Your treatment for oral cancer will be customized to your particular needs. One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms.



Major Oral Surgery is usually done in the operation theatre.                                                                       -Picture courtesy of  thetimes.co.uk

Major Oral Surgery is usually done in the operation theatre. 
                                                                    -Picture courtesy of  thetimes.co.uk


Surgery is the most frequent treatment for oral cancer. The type of surgery depends on the type and stage of the tumor. Surgical techniques to treat oral cancer and deal with the side effects of treatment include:

  1. Removal of the tumor or a larger area to remove the tumor and surrounding healthy tissue
  2. Removal of part or all of the jaw
  3. Maxillectomy (removal of bone in the roof of the mouth)
  4. Removal of lymph nodes and other tissue in the neck
  5. Plastic surgery, including skin grafts, tissue flaps or dental implants to restore tissues removed from the mouth or neck
  6. Tracheotomy, or placing a hole in the windpipe, to assist in breathing for patients with large tumors or after surgical removal of the tumor
  7. Dental surgery to remove teeth or assist with reconstruction



Radiation Therapy

Radiotherapy  © WEBMD.BOOTS.COM

Radiotherapy  © WEBMD.BOOTS.COM

In cancer of the mouth, radiation therapy may be used alone to treat small or early-stage tumors. More often, radiation therapy is used after surgery, either alone or with chemotherapy for more advanced tumors. The method of radiation treatment used depends on the type and stage of cancer. Proton therapy delivers high radiation doses directly into the tumor, sparing nearby healthy tissue and vital organs.




Chemotherapy      © GUARDIAN.CO.UK

Chemotherapy      © GUARDIAN.CO.UK

Chemotherapy may be used to shrink the cancer before surgery or radiation, or it may be combined with radiation to increase the effectiveness of both treatments. It also may be used to shrink tumors that cannot be surgically removed.



After Treatment: Reconstruction and Rehabilitation

After the removal of tumour(eg at the upper palate) it leaves a hole, therefore obturator prosthesis is needed.                                                         -  Picture courtesy of webMD

After the removal of tumour(eg at the upper palate) it leaves a hole, therefore obturator prosthesis is needed.
                                                        - Picture courtesy of webMD

Oral cancer and its treatment often cause difficulty in speaking, swallowing and breathing. We work with you, defining your needs and making sure you receive the care you need. This may include speech, occupational and physical therapies and other methods.

After treatment, some patients with oral cancer need plastic or reconstructive surgery to help restore their appearance or regain the ability to speak or swallow. 

Sometimes the surgeon can perform reconstructive surgery at the same time as your cancer surgery; in other cases it is best to wait. Your doctor will recommend the method that is best for you. If reconstructive surgery isn’t possible, you may be fitted for a dental prosthesis or implant. A therapist will show you how to use the device. Sometimes, grafts of skin, muscle or bone, which are moved from another part of body to the mouth, are used.


Followup care for mouth cancer
Even though the cancer seems to have been completely destroyed or removed, the disease may sometimes return. This is because undetected cells may remain in the body after treatment. Therefore, follow- up care after treatment is very important for oral cancer.

Once you finished the treatment, your doctor monitors your recovery and checks for recurrence of the disease. Check-ups include exams of the throat neck and mouth. He often does a complete physical exam, take x-rays or suggest blood tests. Your doctor suggests you inspect your mouth regularly and keep on having exams when you visit him. These check-ups help notice any change in your health. You should report your doctor any changes in your mouth right away.

People, who have had mouth cancer, are at risk of developing a new cancer in the mouth, throat or other areas of the head and neck. This is especially true in case of people, who drink alcohol or use tobacco heavily. Therefore, doctors strongly warn their patients to stop using tobacco or alcohol to reduce the risk of oral cancer and other health problems.

Proper care after oral cancer is as important as its treatment. Therefore, the patient should obey all the instructions of their dentist strictly to prevent future occurrence of the disease.

This post was created by Dr Tee Kang Long , updated on 1 May 2016 by Koh Wen Thong