Oral cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the mouth. It most commonly involves the lips or the tongue. Other structures in the oral cavity that may be involved in oral cancer are cheek lining, floor of the mouth, gums (gingiva) and roof of the mouth (palate).
The basic treatment options for patients with oral cancer include:
Treatment for oral cancer aims to cure the disease but if this is not possible then treatment aims to prevent the tumour from growing or spreading, increase the life expectancy and maintain the quality of life.
Treatment recommended for oral cancer is based on many factors such as:
Oral cancer in early stages which has not spread to adjacent tissues and lymph nodes can be cured using a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy or radiotherapy uses high-powered energy beams such as X-rays or gamma rays to kill or destroy cancer cells and shrink tumours. Radiation therapy is directed to the affected area and the cancer cells are treated or destroyed.
Radiation therapy for oral cancer may be given on two conditions, namely:
Internal radiation or Brachytherapy: It is often used to treat cancers of the tongue in early stages. In this technique a radiation-filled device, such as small seeds, wires or a cylinder, is placed directly into the tumour for a short period of time.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses strong and potent medications to destroy or kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is mostly given along with radiotherapy in cases with widespread cancer or if there is a significant risk of recurrence of the cancer.
Targeted drug therapy: In advanced oral cancer cetuximab may be given. It is a monoclonal antibody, which targets the cancer cells. It is usually given along with radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
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