You Have Oral Cancer. Now What?

If you are diagnosed with oral cancer, your medical team will recommend a treatment plan.

If you are diagnosed with oral cancer, your medical team will recommend a treatment plan.

An oral cancer diagnosis can come as tragic news for you and your family. But it is important to remember that the doctors you will be working with are experts at controlling the spread of cancer.

Once diagnosed, you will have many decisions to make. Since you will need to make these decisions while you are still emotionally accepting your diagnosis, it will be helpful if you are familiar with some (not all) of your options.

Some forms of oral cancer require surgery in order to remove the tumor from the mouth or throat. If the cancer cells have spread, other tissue may need to be removed as well.

There are two ways to use high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells:

  • External radiation uses a machine to send radiation through the patient’s skin to the tumor.
  • Internal radiation involves implanting a radioactive substance into or near the cancer via a wire, catheter or other route.

Using medications to eradicate cancer cells or stop them from multiplying is known as chemotherapy. These medications can be taken by mouth, given intravenously or injected into a muscle.

Adjuvant Treatment
Your doctor may suggest that you receive more than one type of treatment to beat oral cancer. For instance, after surgery, you may have radiation or chemotherapy to destroy traces of cancer that were not completely removed. This is considered adjuvant treatment.

As mentioned, these are the most common options, but they may not be your only options. Make sure to discuss your treatment choices with your doctor. He or she will be able to give you a better understanding of the next steps in your journey.

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