Treatment options for oral cancer is dependent totally upon the extent, site and the stage of oral cancer. Also, the patient’s general state of health has to be taken into consideration. In certain cases, a single treatment modality might suffice while in other cases, a combination of certain treatments might be necessary.
Chiefly, there are three main Treatment options for oral cancer…
The surgical treatment of Oral cancer involves, removal of the cancerous tumor tissue along with a margin of the healthy tissue around the tumour. At times, the lymph nodes might need to be excised as well if the tumour has spread to the lymph nodes of the neck. At times, in case of larger and more aggressive tumours, might need the removal of some part of the tongue or jaws.
At times, removal of part of jaw or certain other tissues in the oral region might drastically affect the appearance of the face, patient’s ability to talk, chew food etc. In these cases,a reconstructive surgery might be required for restoring the patient’s facial aesthetics as well as function.The facial aesthetics involve use of grafts of skin, muscle, bone etc. taken from other parts of the body. To replace the lost tooth, Dental implants or other prosthetics like: bridges, dentures etc. may be required.
Treatment options for oral cancer also include Radiation therapy. Oral cancers are quite sensitive to radiation therapy. Therefore, it is a commonly considered modality of treatment. Radiation therapy makes use of high-energy beam of X-rays or other types of particulate radiation for destroying the DNA of tumor cells. This destroys the ability of the cancer cells to reproduce.
There are two types of radiation therapy.One form is External beam radiation that can deliver the radiation to the cancerous tissue from outside. Another form is brachytherapy, that involves placement of radioactive seeds and wires near or directly into the tumour of the cancerous tissue inside the body. Brachytherapy is more effective in treatment of early stages of lingual cancer. Brachytherapy helps to release the dose of radiation at the very site of tumour. This procedure is taken up under GA.
A person who is lucky enough to be diagnosed in the early stage of cancer might need radiation therapy alone for treatment. However, depending upon the stage, the treatment might comprise of a combination of surgery, chemotherapy or both. A combination of therapies might be important for preventing cancer from coming back.
Radiation therapy might have a few side effects too. Here are a few of them:
- Decay of teeth
- Mouth ulcers
- Gingivitis leading to bleeding gums
- Stiffness in jaws
- Dermatitis and mucositis
Another Treatment options for oral cancer includes Chemotherapy. The use of chemotherapy for treating oral cancers involves the use of therapeutic drugs that can be administered in different forms. Most chemotherapeutic agents are available in form of tablets, capsules and injections.
Chemotherapy drugs mostly make use of potent drugs that cause damage to the DNA of the cancerous cells. This decreases their ability to multiply and spread. Chemotherapy drugs can cause damage to healthy tissue, as a side effect.
The following side effects may occur as a result of chemotherapy to Oral cancer:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Hair thinning and hair loss
- Weakened immune system leading to higher risk of catching infection
These effects are usually reversible and stop after the treatment is over.