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Cancer of the Mouth and Throat (cont.)

Mouth and Throat Cancer Prognosis

The prognosis of oral cancer is dependent upon many factors, including the exact type and stage of the tumor, the type of treatment that is chosen, and the overall health status of the patient. The average 5-year survival rate for all people who undergo treatment for head and neck cancer has been reported at approximately 61%. The 5-year survival rate for people diagnosed with localized cancers of the oral cavity is about 82%. When the cancer has spread to distant sites, the 5-year survival rate drops to about 33%. More accurate percentages and survival statistics depend on the tumor location, staging, type of treatment, and the presence of other medical conditions.

People with a mouth and throat cancer have a chance of developing another head and neck cancer or cancer in a neighboring region such as the voice box (larynx) or esophagus (the tube between the throat and the stomach). Regular follow-up examinations and prevention are extremely important.

Support Groups and Counseling for Mouth and Throat Cancer

Upon completion of cancer treatment, the patient should request a survivorship care plan. Such a plan will include a summary of the treatments that they received. It will also outline further recommended followup appointments, scans, and other tests anticipated. Living with cancer presents many new challenges for the patient and for his or her family and friends.

  • The patient will probably have many worries about how the cancer will affect his or her ability to "live a normal life," that is, to care for family and home, to hold a job, and to continue the friendships and activities that he or she enjoys.
  • Many people feel anxious and depressed. Some people feel angry and resentful; others feel helpless and defeated.

For most people with cancer, talking about their feelings and concerns helps.

  • Friends and family members can be very supportive. They may be hesitant to offer support until they see how the patient is coping. The patient should not wait for them to bring it up. If the patient wants to talk about his or her concerns, let them know.
  • Some people don't want to "burden" their loved ones, or they prefer talking about their concerns with a more neutral professional. A social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful if the patient wants to discuss his or her feelings and concerns about having cancer. The doctor should be able to recommend someone.
  • Many people with cancer are profoundly helped by talking to other people who have cancer. Sharing concerns with others who have been through the same thing can be remarkably reassuring. Support groups of people with cancer may be available through the medical center where the patient receives treatment. The American Cancer Society also has information about support groups all over the United States.

Medically reviewed by Jay B. Zatzkin, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Medical Oncology

REFERENCES:

Howlader, N., et al., eds. "SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2008." National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, based on November 2010 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, 2011. <http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2009_pops09/>.

National Cancer Institute (NCI). "Oral Cancer." National Institutes of Health (NIH). <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/oral>.

Scully, Crispian, et al. "Cancers of the Oral Mucosa." Medscape. 20 Apr. 2012. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1075729-overview>.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/18/2016

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