Saturday, April 13, 2024

Mouth Cancer Treatment Without Surgery

Physical Emotional And Social Effects Of Cancer

Mouth Opening Problem solved after Cancer Surgery

Cancer and its treatment cause physical symptoms and side effects, as well as emotional, social, and financial effects. Managing all of these effects is called palliative care or supportive care. It is an important part of your care that is included along with treatments intended to slow, stop, or eliminate the cancer.

Palliative care focuses on improving how you feel during treatment by managing symptoms and supporting patients and their families with other, non-medical needs. Any person, regardless of age or type and stage of cancer, may receive this type of care. And it often works best when it is started right after a cancer diagnosis. People who receive palliative care along with treatment for the cancer often have less severe symptoms, better quality of life, and report that they are more satisfied with treatment.

Palliative treatments vary widely and often include medication, nutritional changes, relaxation techniques, emotional and spiritual support, and other therapies. You may also receive palliative treatments similar to those meant to get rid of the cancer, such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy.

Learn more about the importance of tracking side effects in another part of this guide. Learn more about palliative care in a separate section of this website.

Risk Factors For Developing Mouth Cancer

The risk of developing oral cancers in men is twice as much as in women. However, men whose age is above 50 are at the greatest risk of developing oral cancers. Some common risk factors for mouth cancer include:

  • People who smoke are six times at a greater risk of developing oral cancers than those who dont smoke. Therefore, cigarettes or cigars are the most common causes of mouth cancers.
  • Alcohol consumers are again six times at risk of developing mouth cancers than non-drinkers.
  • People who use chewing tobacco, snuff, or dips are 50 times more likely to develop mouth cancers, like cheek cancer, gum cancer, and cancer inside the lining of the lips.
  • Extreme sun exposure is also one of the common risk factors.
  • Human Papillomavirus strains are risk factors for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need

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The bad news: Oral cancer is common.

The good news: If you have oral cancer and your doctor finds and treats it early, it usually is very curable. Oral cancer can usually be detected by a doctor or dentist in a routine mouth exam. And avoiding smoking and tobacco can go a long way to reducing your risk as the majority of people who get oral cancer are smokers or tobacco users.

Like other cancers, oral cancer is characterized by cells that begin to change, grow out of control and often clump together into a mass called a tumor. Oral cancers are part of a group of cancers known as head and neck cancers and can occur:

  • In the mouth: Including your lips, gums, cheek lining, the floor of your mouth , the front part of your tongue and the roof of your mouth
  • In the throat: Including the back of your tongue, the back part of the roof of your mouth , the back of your throat and your tonsils

Oral cancer can interfere with eating, talking and even breathing. Each year, between 30,000 and 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer, and it claims the lives of some 10,000 people.

But most cases of oral cancer are treatable, and the chances of treating oral cancer successfully are improved with early diagnosis and treatment

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How Oral And Oropharyngeal Cancers Are Treated

Oral and oropharyngeal cancers can often be cured, especially if the cancer is found at an early stage. Although curing the cancer is the primary goal of treatment, preserving the function of the nearby nerves, organs, and tissues is also very important. When doctors plan treatment, they consider how treatment might affect a persons quality of life, such as how the person feels, looks, talks, eats, and breathes.

In many cases, a team of doctors will work together with the patient to create the best treatment plan. Head and neck cancer specialists often form a multidisciplinary team to care for each patient. This team may include:

Cancer care teams include a variety of other health care professionals, such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, counselors, dietitians, and others. It is extremely important for the team to create a comprehensive treatment plan before treatment begins. People may need to be seen by several specialists before a treatment plan is fully developed.

There are 3 main treatment options for oral and oropharyngeal cancer: surgery, radiation therapy, and therapies using medication. These types of treatment are described below. Your care plan may also include treatment for symptoms and side effects, an important part of cancer care.

What Can I Expect If I Have Oral Cancer

Pathology Lynn, MA

Oral cancer includes cancer in your mouth. Like most forms of cancer, early diagnosis and treatment improve the chance that oral cancer will spread. Approximately 1/3 of people treated for oral cancer develop new a cancer. If youve been treated for oral cancer, talk to your healthcare provider about follow-up examinations.

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Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy

Doctors at NYU Langone may use intensity modulated radiation therapy after surgery for oral cancer to destroy any remaining cancer cells. It is also sometimes used to manage oral cancer in people who cannot tolerate surgery.

With this therapy, a machine delivers the radiation beams from different directions. This type of radiation therapy is broken into many small, computer-controlled doses of differing strengths.

Tailored to the size, shape, and location of the tumor or the site from which the tumor was removedcalled the tumor bedthese minibeams enable doctors to deliver high doses of radiation to specific areas while avoiding nearby healthy tissue. Radiation therapy is delivered in doses called fractionstypically once daily, five days a week, for six or seven weeks.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy may be combined with chemotherapy. This approach, called chemoradiation, may be used to destroy any remaining cancer cells after oral cancer is surgically removed. It may also be used after surgery in people who have cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes.

Surgery For Oral Cancer

Oral cancer that is detected at an early stage, before the cancer cells have spread to other areas of the body, is generally treated with surgery. Surgery also may be used to treat patients with advanced-stage and recurrent cancers, often in combination with radiation therapy, chemotherapy or targeted therapy.

Surgical procedures may include:

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Considering Complementary And Alternative Methods

You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasnt mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.

Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctors medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be harmful.

Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known about the method, which can help you make an informed decision.

What Is Mouth Cancer

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Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer or cancer of the oral cavity, is often used to describe a number of cancers that start in the region of the mouth. These most commonly occur on the lips, tongue and floor of the mouth but can also start in the cheeks, gums, roof of the mouth, tonsils and salivary glands. Mouth cancers are generally classified as head and neck cancers. While the term mouth cancer is seldom used in scientific literature nor in Australia’s official cancer data collection system, we use it here because it is used in basic information to promote cancer prevention and is easy to understand.

Mouth cancer is not common. It is estimated that 687 new cases will be diagnosed in Australia in 2021.

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Surgery For Oral Cavity And Oropharyngeal Cancer

Surgery is often the first treatment used for these cancers. Several types of operations can be done to treat oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers, depending on where the cancer is located and its stage. It’s most commonly used for small, early-stage cancers that haven’t spread.

After the cancer is removed, reconstructive surgery might be done to help restore the appearance and function of the areas affected by the cancer or cancer treatment.

Studies have shown that people with head and neck cancer who are treated at facilities that perform a lot of head and neck cancer surgeries, tend to live longer. Because of this and the complex nature of these operations, its very important to have a surgeon and cancer center who has experience treating these cancers.

Stage 0 Oral Cavity Cancer

Although cancer in this stage is on the surface layer and has not started to grow into deeper layers of tissue, it can do so if not treated. The usual treatment is surgery to remove the top layers of tissue along with a small margin of normal tissue. Follow-up is important to watch for any signs that the cancer has come back. Carcinoma in situ that keeps coming back after surgery may also need to be treated with radiation therapy.

Nearly all people with this stage survive a long time without the need for more treatment. Still, it’s important to note that continuing to smoke increases the risk that a new cancer will develop. If you’re thinking about quitting smoking and need help, talk to your doctor, or call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 for information and support.

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Finding Other People With Tongue Cancer

Lots of people say it helps to talk to others who know what they’re going through. If you’re seeing a specialist in head and neck cancer, ask them if they can put you in touch with any other patients. That way, they might be nearby.

With less common cancers, it’s hard to find people with the same condition. The Mouth Cancer Foundation website has an online support group that offers practical advice and support for people affected by cancers of the head and neck. Their website also provides information about tongue cancer.

Managing Oral Cancer Treatment Side Effects And Symptoms

13 Natural Treatment For Oral Cancer

Mouth cancer treatment can carry significant side effects, and symptoms of the disease itself also may require coping strategies. Acupuncture may help cut pain, fatigue and nausea caused by chemotherapy or radiation. You may need speech or physical therapy after surgery, and it will take time to adjust to any changes in appearance and function. You may benefit from counseling along with your physical therapy to cope with these challenges.

An oral or mouth cancer diagnosis is challenging, but you do have treatment options. Consult with your healthcare team to see which treatments might be best to address your cancer and help you maintain a good quality of life during oral cancer treatment.

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Managing The Side Effects Of Radiation Therapy

Side effects during treatment can include dry mouth, changes in taste, sunburn-like skin changes, and nausea related to excess mucus production in the mouth. Near the middle or end of radiation therapy, people may experience mouth sores, difficulty swallowing, hair loss, and fatigue.

Radiation therapy may also cause tightening of the muscles in the face and around the jawbones, making speaking, chewing, and swallowing difficult.

Most of these side effects subside after treatment ends, although dry mouth may last for up to two years.

To ease discomfort, doctors can prescribe medication or refer you to NYU Langones integrative health services. Nutritionists, speech and swallowing therapists, and physical therapists are also available to help manage treatment side effects.

What Questions Should I Ask My Provider

Some general questions you might ask your healthcare provider include:

  • What is the difference between pre-cancerous oral cancer and oral cancer?
  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
  • What may have caused me to develop cancer?
  • What tests will I need, and what do they entail?
  • Whats the best course of action?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that youre suggesting?
  • If I need surgery, will I need reconstructive surgery?
  • Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
  • What can I do to ease my symptoms?
  • What lifestyle changes can I make to help with treatment and recovery?

A note from Cleveland Clinic:

Oral cancer is a serious illness that if caught early on can be treated successfully. Thats why its important you try to see your dentist twice a year and make time to do a monthly self-examination. There are ways to prevent oral cancer, and one of the most important is to avoid using tobacco products. A cancer diagnosis can be scary. Know you dont have to go it alone, though. Talk to your healthcare providers about resources to help you talk to your friends and family about your oral cancer.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/27/2022.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy

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What Can I Do To Prevent Developing Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can be prevented, and you can play an active role in preventing it. You can help prevent oral cancer with the following tips:

  • If youre someone who smokes tobacco, chews tobacco or uses a water pipe, try stopping or cutting back. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs.
  • If youre someone who drinks alcohol, drink in moderation.
  • Remember your sunscreen. Use UV-AB-blocking sunscreen on your face and sunblock.
  • Get vaccinated for human papillomavirus.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Have regular dental check-ups. People between ages 20 and 40 should have an oral cancer screening every three years and annual exams after age 40.

Can I spot potential oral cancer?

Detecting oral cancer early can reduce the chance the cancer will grow or spread. You can detect oral cancer early by doing a monthly self-examination. If you spot changes or something unusual, contact your dentist immediately. Heres how to examine your mouth, throat and neck for signs of oral cancer:

  • Feel your lips, the front of your gums and the roof of your mouth.
  • Feel your neck and under your lower jaw for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes.
  • Use a bright light and a mirror to look inside your mouth.
  • Tilt your head back and look at the roof of your mouth.
  • Pull your cheeks out to view the inside of your mouth, the lining of your cheeks and your back gums.
  • Pull your tongue out and look at the top, bottom and sides. Gently push your tongue back so you can see the floor of your mouth.

Stages Ivb And Ivc Oral Cavity Cancer

How to do a mouth cancer check at home

Stage IVB cancers have already spread into nearby tissues, structures, and maybe lymph nodes. Stage IVC cancers have spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs.

People with stage IVB cancers that cannot be removed by surgery or who are too weak for surgery might be treated with radiation alone. Depending on a persons overall health, chemoradiation or chemotherapy first followed by radiation might be options. Chemotherapy alone may also be recommended.

Stage IVC cancers are usually treated with chemo, cetuximab, or both. Immunotherapy, alone or with chemo, might be another option. Treatments such as radiation can also be used to help relieve symptoms from the cancer or to help prevent new problems.

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Tobacco And Alcohol Use Can Affect The Risk Of Lip And Oral Cavity Cancer

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for lip and oral cavity cancer include the following:

  • Heavy alcohol use.
  • Being exposed to natural sunlight or artificial sunlight over long periods of time.

Help Getting Through Cancer Treatment

People with cancer need support and information, no matter what stage of illness they may be in. Knowing all of your options and finding the resources you need will help you make informed decisions about your care.

Whether you are thinking about treatment, getting treatment, or not being treated at all, you can still get supportive care to help with pain or other symptoms. Communicating with your cancer care team is important so you understand your diagnosis, what treatment is recommended, and ways to maintain or improve your quality of life.

Different types of programs and support services may be helpful, and can be an important part of your care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.

The American Cancer Society also has programs and services including rides to treatment, lodging, and more to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists.

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Half Of My Tongue Is Gone But I Couldnt Be Happier

Ive had four of my back teeth removed, the floor of my mouth rebuilt and more than half of my tongue replaced with an arm muscle. But other than a slight lisp and some scars on my neck and forearm, there are no obvious signs that I once had stage IV squamous cell carcinoma, a type of oral cancer.

Recovery from my oral cancer treatment was not fun. It was hard and scary and painful. But it was also worth it.

Thats why I want to share my story both here and through myCancerConnection, MD Andersons one-on-one cancer support community. I want other people facing a similar diagnosis particularly young mothers to see that theres a bright and happy light at the end of that long, dark, uncomfortable tunnel.

My oral cancer symptoms

My first symptom of oral cancer was a small, white patch on the underside of my tongue. It randomly appeared in 2011, and was very sensitive and painful. Since I was only about six weeks away from delivering my second child, I assumed it was one of the million weird things that can go on in your body during pregnancy.

When it didnt go away in a week or two, I mentioned it to my OB-GYN. She said it wasnt pregnancy-related and sent me to a dentist, who said it wasnt a normal mouth sore and sent me to an oral surgeon. The oral surgeon did a biopsy, which came back negative. He said it was a callus and would resolve on its own.

My oral cancer diagnosis

Traveling to MD Anderson for the best oral cancer treatment

My oral cancer treatment

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