People who come to Mayo Clinic with cancer of the oral cavity are treated by a multidisciplinary team of experts dedicated to helping people with these cancers. Oral cavity cancers can affect the mouth, lips, tongue, salivary glands, palate, gums and jaw line. Your doctors talk with you about your concerns, develop an individualized treatment plan, and work with you to preserve or restore your appearance, and your ability to speak and eat.
At the Oral Cavity Cancer and Reconstruction Clinic at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, you receive comprehensive care for the diagnosis and treatment of your condition, with access to dietary and nutritional counseling, cancer treatment, reconstructive surgery, dental restoration, follow-up care, physical therapy, and palliative care services.
Advanced treatment options
Our doctors use the latest technology and techniques to treat oral cavity cancers. Treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, reconstructive surgery or a combination of these approaches.
- Surgery. The type of surgery depends on the size, type, location and depth of the tumor. Nearby lymph nodes may need to be removed and examined to determine how far the cancer has spread. Mayo Clinic head and neck surgeons are skilled at using techniques to get the result you hope for in appearance and function.
- Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams of radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiation may be used alone, or it may be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that might remain. Radiation oncologists at Mayo Clinic use advanced treatment technologies, including intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and proton therapy, to target cancer cells and spare nearby healthy tissue.
- Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. For people with oral cavity cancer, chemotherapy is sometimes used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that might remain. It's sometimes used with radiation therapy. At Mayo Clinic, experienced medical oncologists select the chemotherapy drugs that are most likely to be effective against your cancer cells. Your care team helps you manage side effects of treatment.
- Reconstructive surgery. Depending on the size, location and spread of the cancer, some people may need reconstructive surgery to restore mouth function. Doctors at Mayo Clinic are skilled in using the latest techniques in reconstructive surgery to restore your ability to speak and eat after oral cavity surgery.
- Dental restoration. Specialists in dental restoration (prosthodontists) help plan your treatment in order to keep functional teeth and restore those that might be compromised as a result of treatment.
- Rehabilitation. Rehabilitation specialists in speech therapy, swallowing therapy, dietetics, physical therapy and occupational therapy help with rehabilitation that may be necessary after surgery or radiation therapy. The Nicotine Dependence Center at Mayo Clinic can help if you're trying to stop using tobacco.
Your treatment team
Our ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists work with medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, prosthodontists and rehabilitation medicine specialists to provide comprehensive care. Other professionals are included in your care as needed. Your Mayo Clinic doctors also coordinate access to the patient education center and palliative care services.
At the Oral Cavity Cancer and Reconstruction Clinic, a multidisciplinary team of experts works together so that you get exactly the care you need. And the team's collaborative approach to care means efficient care. In many cases, people are evaluated and have surgery scheduled the same week.
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