For this year’s Mouth Cancer Action Month, which we are jointly promoting with the Oral Health Foundation, we...
If you’ve been diagnosed with mouth cancer the treatment you receive will depend on where the cancer is and how far it has spread. Lots of different people may be involved with your treatment including:
- Dental hygienist or therapist
- GP practice
- Plastic surgeon
- Speech therapist
- Social worker
- Nurse and support workers
Treatment normally begins with counselling. You will be told exactly how your treatment will take place, what after-effects the treatment may have and how to deal with these. Your family members or carers may also be included in these discussions. If you are a smoker you will be advised to stop and given help and support with this.
A full dental inspection will follow and dental treatment arranged if necessary. This is because it can be difficult to carry out routine dental treatment during cancer therapy and for some time afterwards. You will also be given detailed instructions on how to properly look after your mouth after your cancer treatment.
If your cancer has been discovered early it may be treated with surgery alone, removing the whole tumour and a little healthy tissue around it to prevent cancerous cells being left behind. More often, if surgery is recommended it will be followed by radiotherapy, chemotherapy or both. As well as removing the tumour it may also be necessary to remove the lymph nodes in the neck to stop the cancer spreading. Patients with advanced cancer may need to have quite a lot of diseased tissue removed and replaced with grafts taken from other parts of the body.
After your treatment is complete you should regularly attend your dental practice for on going care.