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Making the Decision to Have Surgery for Oral Cancer

Many people with oral cancer have surgery to remove the tumor. Surgery also may include removing any lymph nodes that have cancer. An operation may be the only treatment you have. Or it may be used with other therapies.

Not everyone is a candidate for surgery. But if it’s an option for you, you’ll want to find out more about the operation. Here are some questions to consider asking your surgeon:

  • What are the risks of having this surgery?

  • What are the possible side effects of the surgery?

  • Will the surgery change my appearance?

  • Will the surgery change how I use my mouth to eat, breathe, or talk?

  • What can I do to make it easier to return to my normal activities after surgery?

Don’t hesitate to have an open discussion with your surgeon. It’s important to get the facts so that you can get the best treatment.

“Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) Patient Version.” National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, May 9, 2013. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/lip-and-oral-cavity/patient Accessed 2013.

“Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) Health Professional Version.” National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, July 16, 2012. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/lip-and-oral-cavity/HealthProfessional Accessed 2013.

“Asking More Questions: Talking To Doctors in Special Situations.” National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, April 2010. http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/talking-your-doctor-guide-older-people/asking-more-questions-talking-doctors Accessed 2013.

“What Should You Ask Your Doctor About Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer?” American Cancer Society, June 18, 2013. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/oralcavityandoropharyngealcancer/detailedguide/oral-cavity-and-oropharyngeal-cancer-talking-with-doctor Accessed 2013.

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