by ALY DUTY
While your general dentist may be the one to spot and diagnose oral cancer, an oral surgeon is the one who will treat it. Oral surgeons specialize in the treatment of diseases, injuries, and defects in the jaws, neck, head, face, and the soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. In addition to completing dental school, oral and maxillofacial surgeons complete four to six years of surgical training and continue their education in areas like oral pathology. This is why oral surgeons are the preferred specialists of those with oral cancer. In this blog, we discuss the ways oral surgeons treat oral cancer.
To determine your treatment plan, the oral surgeon will work with your general dentist and/or general practitioner. Together, they will assess the cyst, tumor, or other types of pathology that has been detected. Biopsies are taken and sent to labs. Once the results are in, the team can begin to plan your treatment.
The goal of your surgical team will be to preserve the function and appearance of your mouth, face, or neck. You can trust that an experienced oral surgeon will use the most effective surgical method of treatment, preferably a conservative treatment, but invasive treatments are sometimes necessary. Either way, the oral surgeon’s skill, experience, and expertise will provide the most beneficial and satisfying results. The oral surgeon will either recommend a laser removal procedure or complete surgical removal of the lesion. Complete surgical removal will include on or more of these procedures:
• Mohs micrographic surgery
• Tumor resection
• Partial or full jaw resection
• Neck dissection
Continue reading to learn about each of these procedures.
Mohs micrographic surgery: The two most common types of skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinomas. The most effective way to treat these cancers is the Mohs surgery. This procedure is complete in one visit but involves several stages, including:
• Prep for the procedure
• Removal of the top layer of cancerous tissue
• Analysis and examination of the tissue
• Repairing the site
Tumor resection: For patients with one or more tumors, the oral surgeon will remove the entire tumor and some of the surrounding tissue to eliminate as many cancer cells as possible. Small tumors are often removed through the mouth while an incision may be necessary for large or hard to reach tumors.
Partial or full jaw resection: When a tumor grows into the bone of the jaw, this procedure may be necessary. In some cases, only a small piece of the bone will be removed, but in others, the entire jawbone may need to be removed.
In either scenario, the oral surgeon can plan to perform reconstructive surgery to rebuild your jaw using bone from another part of your body.
Glossectomy: Cancer of the tongue often involves partial or full removal of the tongue. This is only necessary when all other treatment options fail. Maxillectomy: This surgical procedure removes part or all of the front of the roof of the mouth (or hard palate). To fill in this hole, a special denture may be created by a prosthodontist or your general dentist.
Laryngectomy: If a tumor has attached itself to the voice box, or larynx, both may need to be removed. Additionally, other issues involved in swallowing could be taken out as well. Fortunately, there are several techniques to restore vocal capabilities after this procedure.
Neck dissection: Several different procedures may be recommended to eradicate cancer in the lymph nodes. Each of the following procedures requires removing lymph nodes from the neck:
• Partial or selective neck dissection
• Modified radical neck dissection
• Radical neck dissection
Oral Cancer Specialists
To receive the most effective and successful care for your oral cancer, visit with an oral surgeon today. He or she will do everything possible to use the most conservative treatment for your situation. If no possible, reconstructive surgeries are always an option for restoring the function and appearance of your face, mouth, neck, or jaw.