Treatment recommended by your oncologist depends on the type of cancer diagnosed, its stage, your age and health in general. However, whatever decision taken, your doctor will have to choose surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy. These therapeutic methods can be used alone or in combination.
Surgery will be performed depending on the location of the tumor and its size. Usually, surgery is performed to treat limited oral cancers. The surgery may be partial or total removal of the tumor and some surrounding tissue.
Sometimes, removal of the vocal cords, jaw bone, or parts of the face is inevitable. Although the operation may prolong your life or even eliminate the cancer completely, it can affect your appearance, speech, and ability to swallow. In this case, you may be recommended a reconstructive plastic surgery to repair your face.
In large oral cancers, a tracheotomy may be necessary. If so, you’ll be obligated to breathe through a tube implanted in the trachea and not through your nose or mouth. A speech therapist will teach you how to talk.
Radiotherapy (radiation therapy)
Radiotherapy is the destruction of cancer cells using high-energy beams. Unlike chemotherapy, which acts on cancer cells throughout the body, radiation therapy acts locally; distant healthy tissue is not affected by the therapy. In some cases, your doctor can associated external radiation therapy with internal radiotherapy (brachytherapy) ton increase your survival chance. In the treatment of oral cancer, radiotherapy is often performed one month after surgery.
Side effects: in addition to redness of the skin, radiotherapy in the oral cavity always causes dry mouth. In case that the major salivary glands were irradiated at high doses of radiation, the dry mouth can be definitive.
Chemotherapy involves using powerful chemicals to kill cancer cells. Unlike surgery and radiation therapy, chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that affects the entire organism. The chemotherapy drugs designed to destroy cancer cells or prevent them from multiplying throughout the body. These drugs can be taken by infusion, injection or pill form.
However, chemotherapy drugs affect both cancer cells and healthy cells that divide rapidly, which often causes side effects:
- loss of hair
- And more..