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Oral Cancer (1)

Oral Cancer Treatment Options: What You Need to Know

Oral cancer is a serious medical condition that affects thousands of individuals worldwide each year. When diagnosed with oral cancer, navigating through the myriad of treatment options can be overwhelming. From surgery to radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and palliative care, understanding each treatment modality, its benefits, risks, and potential outcomes is crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deep into the world of oral cancer treatment, providing an in-depth exploration of each option to empower patients and their families to make informed decisions about their care. When facing oral cancer, Wicker Park Dental offers compassionate support and comprehensive care to guide patients through their treatment journey and improve their quality of life.

Oral Cancer

1. Surgery: Removing the Threat

Surgery is often the primary treatment for oral cancer, particularly in cases where the tumor is localized and has not spread to other parts of the body. The goal of surgery is to remove the cancerous tumor and any surrounding tissue that may contain cancer cells. Different surgical techniques may be employed, depending on the size, location, and stage of the tumor:

  • Laser Surgery: Utilizing a highly focused beam of light, laser surgery can precisely remove cancerous tissue while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Excision: This procedure involves surgically cutting out the tumor along with a margin of healthy tissue to ensure the complete removal of cancer cells.
  • Mandibulectomy: In cases where the tumor has invaded the jawbone, a portion of the jaw may need to be surgically removed to eradicate the cancer.
  • Neck Dissection: If cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck, a neck dissection may be performed to remove them and prevent further spread of the disease.

2. Radiation Therapy: Targeting Cancer with Precision

Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It can be employed as a primary treatment for oral cancer or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy. There are two primary types of radiation therapy used in the treatment of oral cancer:

  • External Beam Radiation: This approach delivers radiation from outside the body using a machine called a linear accelerator. It precisely targets the cancerous tumor while sparing nearby healthy tissue.
  • Internal Radiation (Brachytherapy): In this technique, radioactive material is placed directly into or near the tumor, allowing for a high dose of radiation to be delivered directly to the cancer cells.

While radiation therapy can be highly effective in treating oral cancer, it may also lead to side effects such as mouth sores, dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, and changes in taste.

3. Chemotherapy: Fighting Cancer with Drugs

Chemotherapy employs powerful drugs to kill cancer cells or inhibit their growth. It is often used in conjunction with surgery and/or radiation therapy for advanced or metastatic oral cancer. Chemotherapy drugs may be administered orally or intravenously and work by targeting rapidly dividing cells, which include cancer cells. However, they can also affect healthy cells in the body, leading to side effects such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and increased susceptibility to infections.

4. Targeted Therapy: Precision Medicine for Oral Cancer

Targeted therapy is a relatively newer approach to treating oral cancer that focuses on targeting specific molecules involved in cancer cell growth and survival. Unlike chemotherapy, which affects all rapidly dividing cells, targeted therapy specifically targets cancer cells, sparing healthy cells and minimizing side effects. Targeted therapy drugs may be administered orally or intravenously and can lead to side effects such as skin rash, diarrhea, and liver problems. This treatment modality is often used in cases where other treatments have failed or in combination with chemotherapy to enhance efficacy.

5. Palliative Care: Enhancing Quality of Life

Palliative care is a crucial component of oral cancer treatment, particularly for patients with advanced or metastatic disease. It focuses on relieving symptoms, managing pain, and improving the overall quality of life for patients and their families. Palliative care may include pain management, nutritional support, psychological counseling, and spiritual care. It aims to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of patients, offering comfort and support throughout the treatment process.


Oral cancer treatment encompasses a range of options, from surgery and radiation therapy to chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and palliative care. Each treatment modality has its benefits, risks, and potential outcomes, and the choice of treatment depends on factors such as the stage and location of the cancer, overall health, and patient preferences. Patients need to work closely with their healthcare team to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses their individual needs and circumstances. With early detection, prompt treatment, and comprehensive care, patients with oral cancer can achieve the best possible outcomes and improve their quality of life.


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