Cancer of the Mouth and Throat (cont.)
Mouth and Throat Cancer Treatment
After evaluation by a surgical or radiation oncologist to treat the cancer, there will be ample opportunity to ask questions and discuss which treatments are available.
The doctor will explain each type of treatment, elaborate the pros and cons, and make recommendations.
Treatment for head and neck cancer depends on the type of cancer and whether it has affected other parts of the body. Factors such as age, overall health, and whether the patient has already been treated for the cancer before are included in the treatment decision-making process.
The decision of which treatment to pursue is made with the doctor (with input from other members of the care team) and family members, but ultimately, the decision is the patient's.
A patient should be certain to understand what will be done and why, and what he or she can expect from the choices. With oral cancers, it is especially important to understand the side effects of treatment.
Like many cancers, head and neck cancer is treated on the basis of cancer stage. The most widely used therapies are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
The medical team may include an ear, nose, and throat surgeon; an oral surgeon; a plastic surgeon; and a specialist in prosthetics of the mouth and jaw (prosthodontist), as well as a specialist in radiation therapy (radiation oncologist) and medical oncology.
Because cancer treatment can make the mouth sensitive and more likely to be infected, the doctor will probably advise the patient to have any needed dental work done before receiving treatments.
The team will also include a dietitian to ensure that the patient gets adequate nutrition during and after therapy.
A speech therapist may be needed to help the patient recover his or her speech or swallowing abilities after treatment.
A physical therapist may be needed to help the patient recover function compromised by loss of muscle or nerve activity from the surgery.
A social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy will be available to help the patient and his or her family cope with the emotional, social, and financial toll of your treatment.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/3/2014
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