The no-nonsense guide to the treatment of oral cancer

By June 1, 2015 August 28th, 2015 Dental Questions, Toothbrushes

Cancer is one of those words that strikes fear into our hearts, but it really shouldn’t. Medicine is far enough advanced that it can effectively treat many types of cancer if caught early enough, including oral cancer.

There are four main treatment types for mouth cancer. They are:


  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Cetuximab

Let’s take a look at each.


Surgery is a very effective treatment for oral cancer if we can catch it early enough. We can use photodynamic therapy (PDT) to remove the tumor with a laser in conjunction with a special drug that isolates the cells. We can also perform surgery to remove affected areas including on the tongue, neck, throat, jaw bone and lymph nodes, but only if absolutely necessary.

As holistic dentists, Aesthetic Family Dentistry will always opt for the least intrusive option possible and only after discussing all of your options with you and the treating Oral surgeon.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, is a very effective treatment for mouth cancer that uses very targeted doses of radiation to kill cancer cells. It isn’t always suitable for all cases of oral cancer and is often used after surgery to prevent a recurrence or to ensure the affected area has been completely treated.

Radiation therapy involves a daily dose of therapy over the course of several weeks. You will be continuously monitored throughout this time to ensure the treatment is fully effective.


Chemotherapy can be used on its own or in conjunction with radiotherapy if cancer is widespread. Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to disrupt cancer cell reproduction. It is a very effective treatment for oral cancer if caught early enough but it isn’t without its side effects.

A detailed and honest discussion of the pros and cons of chemotherapy will be important should it be necessary to use it as a treatment.


Cetuximab is a new treatment for mouth cancer that uses a biologic drug to help address the condition. Often used in tandem with radiotherapy or chemotherapy, Cetuximab disrupts a protein on the surface of the cancer cell, called epidermal growth factor receptors. These proteins are essential for cancer cell growth, so any disruption helps stop the spread of the condition. This treatment is still undergoing trials right now but may become a viable option in the future.

If you would like to discuss oral cancer or think you may have developed the condition, contact Aesthetic Family Dentistry today for a consultation. We’re here to help.

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