Thu. Jul 18th, 2024
Treatment Options for Oral Cancer: A Comprehensive Guide


Oral cancer is a difficult and sometimes fatal disease that affects the lips, tongue, gums, and throat, among other regions of the mouth. In order to improve patient outcomes and quality of life, effective treatment is essential. The available treatment options for oral cancer will be discussed in this blog, including immunotherapy, targeted therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. When fighting oral cancer, it is critical for patients and medical practitioners to be aware of these choices.

Surgery for Oral Cancer

One of the main treatments for oral cancer is surgery, which is frequently used to remove the tumour together with the surrounding tissues. The location and severity of the malignancy determine the sort of surgery that is needed. The following are typical oral cancer surgery procedures:

  1. Tumor Resection: The removal of the tumour is the main goal of surgery. This may entail excising a portion of the tongue, gums, lip, or other afflicted regions. To make sure that there are no cancer cells left, a large margin of healthy tissue surrounding the tumour may occasionally be removed.
  2. Lymph Node Dissection: Neighbouring lymph nodes may also need to be removed if the malignancy has spread there. This process is called neck dissection or lymph node dissection.
  3. Reconstruction: In order to restore function and appearance following tumour excision, rebuilding is frequently required. To restore the damaged area, grafts, flaps, or other methods may be used.
  4. Reconstruction of Jaws: Advanced cancers affecting the jawbone may necessitate jaw reconstructive surgery. This can involve using prosthetic devices and bone grafting.

Radiation Therapy for Oral Cancer

High-energy beams, such protons or X-rays, are used in radiation therapy to target and kill cancer cells. It is frequently used as the main treatment for oral cancer or in combination with surgery. Two primary categories of radiation therapy exist:

  1. External Beam Radiation: For oral cancer, this is the most popular type of radiation treatment. Radiation beams from outside the body are directed towards the tumour and surrounding tissue. Usually, treatments are given every day for a few weeks.
  2. Internal Radiation (Brachytherapy): In brachytherapy, a radioactive source is positioned inside or close to the tumour. As a result, the cancer can receive high radiation doses while the surrounding healthy tissue is exposed to as little radiation as possible.

Chemotherapy for Oral Cancer

Drugs are used in chemotherapy to either kill or stop the growth of cancer cells. It can be injected orally, and it is frequently used in conjunction with other therapies. Chemotherapy may be used in the following ways in cases of oral cancer:

  1. Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is administered prior to radiation therapy or surgery with the goal of shrinking the tumour and increasing its accessibility for subsequent therapies.
  2. Adjuvant Chemotherapy: Given following radiation therapy or surgery to eradicate any cancer cells that may still be present and lower the chance of recurrence.
  3. Palliative Chemotherapy: Used to control symptoms and enhance the patient’s quality of life in advanced cases

Targeted Therapy for Oral Cancer

One type of treatment called targeted therapy focuses on the chemicals that are responsible for the proliferation and metastasis of cancer cells. When specific genetic or molecular abnormalities are present in the malignancy, it is frequently used. Oral cancer targeted therapy could consist of:

  1. Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Inhibitors: The EGFR protein, which is frequently overexpressed in oral cancer cells, is blocked by medications known as epidermal growth factor receptor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors. Cancer growth can be slowed down by inhibiting EGFR.
  2. Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Inhibitors: VEGF stimulates the development of blood vessels that supply tumours. By blocking VEGF, one can limit the blood supply to the tumour and stop new blood vessels from growing.
  3. Checkpoint Inhibitors: These medications specifically target proteins that aid cancer cells in immune system evasion. Checkpoint inhibitors work by preventing these proteins from functioning, which strengthens the body’s defences against cancer.

Immunotherapy for Oral Cancer

A cutting-edge strategy called immunotherapy uses the body’s immune system to combat cancer. It has demonstrated potential in the treatment of several cancers, including oral cancer. The following are the main forms of immunotherapy for oral cancer:

  1. Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors: These medications prevent the body’s immunological response by blocking certain proteins. They make it possible for the immune system to identify and combat cancer cells more successfully by doing this.
  2. Cytokines: Signalling molecules called cytokines can be utilised to activate the immune system. Although they are less frequently used, they might be useful in some cases of oral cancer.
  3. Adoptive Cell Therapy: In this experimental method, the patient’s immune cells (such T cells) are extracted, altered to specifically target cancer, and then reintroduced into the body.
  4. Therapeutic Vaccines: Vaccinations intended to encourage the immune system to target certain antigens on the surface of oral cancer cells are known as therapeutic vaccinations.


Treatment for oral cancer must take a multifaceted strategy due to its complexity and difficulty. The cancer’s stage, the patient’s general health, and the tumor’s unique properties all influence the therapy modalities that are selected.

In the treatment of oral cancer, surgery is still the mainstay and is frequently paired with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Promising strategies include targeted therapy and immunotherapy, especially in cases that are advanced or when certain genetic or molecular abnormalities are present.

A multidisciplinary team of medical specialists develops individualised treatment plans, which are crucial for enhancing patient results and guaranteeing the highest standard of living. Effective management of oral cancer requires regular check-ups, early detection, and open contact with healthcare practitioners. Patients and their families can make more informed decisions and confidently tackle the challenges of oral cancer by being aware of the available treatment options.

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