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Surgery for Oral Cancer: What to Expect

Surgery is a common treatment for oral cancer.Your doctor uses surgery to remove the tumor.

The kind of surgery you need depends on the stage and location of the cancer. Sometimes, the surgeon will just remove the tumor and some normal tissue around it. If the cancer has spread t your jaw or palate, your surgeon may need to remove part of your jawbone or the roof of your mouth.

Your surgeon may remove lymph nodes from your neck to see if the cancer has spread. This may help you and your doctor make decisions about other treatments, such as whether you need radiation with or without chemotherapy.

If taking out the tumor affects the way you look or how you can use your mouth, you may need to have more surgery to rebuild your mouth. Sometimes this surgery is done right after the tumor is removed. After surgery, you may also be fitted with a mouth prosthesis to help you eat or talk.

The doctor may also recommend that you see a speech therapist, who can teach you how to talk and swallow better.

After your surgery, you may also need to be treated with radiation or chemotherapy, depending on the size of your tumor and whether the cancer has spread.

“What you need to know about Oral Cancer: Treatment.” National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/oral/page8#b Accessed 2013.

“Detailed Guide: Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer: Treatment Options by Stage.” American Cancer Society, February 26, 2013. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/oralcavityandoropharyngealcancer/detailedguide/oral-cavity-and-oropharyngeal-cancer-treating-by-stage Accessed 2013.

“Detailed Guide: Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer: Surgery.” American Cancer Society, February 26, 2013. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/oralcavityandoropharyngealcancer/detailedguide/oral-cavity-and-oropharyngeal-cancer-treating-surgery Accessed 2010.

“Oral Cancer.” MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, March 14, 2012. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001035.htm Accessed 2013.

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