Oral cancer can be a very debilitating disease. As we have said in past posts, the average survival rate for late detection is 5 years. For those who do survive, there are several different methods of treatment that they can expect. Today we are going to do a general overview of the treatment options as each patient’s treatment needs are different.
Treatment for oral cancer usually involves many different doctors to ensure optimal patient care. The team of doctors may include an oral surgeon, an oncologist, a general or restorative dentist, and a chemotherapist. These doctors will work together to ensure not only does treatment go as smoothly as possible, but also to work with the patient to restore their smile after treatment.
Prior to surgery, the patient will have to work with their general dentist to optimize their oral health. A patient who has been going to a dentist for their bi-annual hygiene appointments may not need much of a cleaning, whereas a patient who hasn’t been to the dentist for several years may, in extreme cases, require complete scaling and root planing and extractions. Cleaning as much bacteria out of the mouth as possible prior to surgery is imperative. Taking the extra time to clean the patient’s teeth decreases the likelihood of developing post-operative complications.
The most common types of treatment for oral cancer usually involve surgery and radiation. Depending on the case, chemotherapy may be added as well. In cases where the oral cancer is diagnosed in it’s earliest stages, surgery can be a simple procedure. When the cancer is in diagnosed at a later stage, there can be a need for reconstruction of the oral cavity and/or facial features. The level of surgery and radiation is different for every case. Our Evanston dentists take every effort to make sure that we catch oral cancer in it’s earliest possible stage. We offer a Vizilite Plus oral cancer exam to increase the ability to assess suspicious oral lesions. This exam allows us to see lesions that we may not be able to see under normal lighting conditions, thus increasing the chances of diagnosing oral cancer in it’s earliest stages.
The first step in treatment for oral cancer is to get a diagnosis. If you have a bump, sore, or lesion in your mouth that isn’t healing, contact your doctor and set up an appointment. Oral cancer may be scary, but if you take control of your oral health you can increase your chances of survival and early detection. Educate yourself about the risk factors and ask about the exams available to you at your hygiene appointment to take control of your oral health today!