It can be a scary time if an oral surgeon has diagnosed you or someone you know with oral cancer. As a result, you may be wondering: “What’s the next step? What is oral cancer treatment?” We’ll look into these questions below.
After an exam and tests with your dentist or doctor, your surgeon will offer a diagnosis as to the stage of cancer. The different stages carry the Roman numerals I through IV. The higher number indicates a larger amount of cancer. The cancer’s stage will also help your doctor determine your treatment options.
What is Oral Cancer Treatment at an Oral Surgeon?
Treatment for oral cancer can depend on several factors: location, stage, your health, and your preferences. As a result, each person’s treatment is slightly different than others. For example, a person may undergo one treatment, or they may take several treatments to cure the cancer.
Surgery is the oldest form of cancer treatment. However, it plays an important role. When the cancer is localized, this type of procedure may be effective to remove it. In addition, surgeons use minor surgeries to remove smaller cancers, and more extensive surgeries for tumors that have spread. For instance, we may need to remove a section of the jawbone if a larger tumor is involved. We may also recommend reconstructive surgery after a surgery to help rebuild the mouth.
Chemotherapy (chemo) is one of the main treatments for cancer. It is a use of chemicals to destroy the cancer cells and works by interfering with the cancer’s ability to grow. Your surgeon applies it by IV or orally and, although some may require hospitalization, most receive it on an outpatient basis. Side effects also vary based on the type of chemo you take. The most common are vomiting, nausea, and hair loss.
3. Radiation Therapy
Often, surgeons combine radiation therapy with chemo. However, it may stand alone. Radiation therapy involves treating cancer with ionizing radiation. This kills the cancer cells. The side effects of radiation therapy to your mouth commonly include tooth decay, dry mouth, and damage to your jawbone. We recommend that you have healthy teeth prior to this treatment. Additionally, you will need to see a dentist before radiation therapy begins.
4. Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapy can be effective in early and advanced stages of cancer. It interferes with cancer cell growth and binds to specific proteins on them. Targeted drugs may be used alone or with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Oral cancer treatments can make it hard and painful to eat. For that reason, nutrition is important. Therefore, be sure to discuss your diet with your doctor. You can also get the advice of a nutritionist to help plan a menu. This will help you heal and be gentle on your mouth and throat.