The Oral Cancer Series Finale: You Have Oral Cancer…Now What?
Oral cancer is not an easy topic to discuss, so bravo if you have been keeping up with this series and educating yourself about the risks and diagnosis process. Now the hard part. What if you find out you have oral cancer...then what? Once diagnosed, you will have an overwhelmingly large number of decisions to make. Since you will need to make these decisions while you are still emotionally trying to accept your diagnosis, it is helpful to be familiar with some (not all) of your options. 1) Surgery – Some forms of oral cancer require surgery in order to remove the tumor from the mouth or throat. If the cancer cells have spread, other tissue may need to be removed as well. 2) Radiation - There are two ways to use high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells: a. External radiation uses a machine to send radiation through the patient’s skin to the tumor b. Internal radiation involves implanting a radioactive substance into or near the cancer via a wire, catheter, or other route. 3) Chemotherapy - Using drugs to kill cancer cells or stop them from dividing is known as chemotherapy. These drugs can be taken by mouth, given intravenously or they can be injected into a muscle. 4) Adjuvant Treatment - Your doctor may suggest that you get more than one type of treatment to beat oral cancer. For instance, after surgery, you may have radiation or chemotherapy to kill traces of cancer that were not completely removed. This is considered adjuvant treatment. As mentioned, these are the most common options, but they may not be your only options. Make sure to discuss your treatment choices with your doctor. He or she will be able to give you a better understanding of the next steps in your journey. As with all types of cancer, we tend to think, “It will never happen to me!” Often, the reality of cancer is so scary we end up avoiding routine screenings for fear we might hear the dreaded diagnosis. While cancer is a word you never want to hear from your doctor, avoiding screenings is the exact opposite of what you should do. Avoidance will not stop cancer from forming or spreading. In fact, it could be the part of the whole cancer process that ends up hurting you the most. We are lucky to live in a world where we have treatment options, so don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor and dentist about your risk of oral cancer...it could literally save your life! "Oral Cancer Treatment: Types and Goals." Delta Dental. Web. 05 Apr. 2012. .