Treatment options

Following a diagnosis of oral cancer, your cancer care team will discuss the treatment options that are suitable for you.  This is also a good time to consider if you would like a second opinion.

The most suitable treatment of oral cancer depends on  many things including: 

  • size and location of the cancer

  •  whether it has spread

  • personal factors (e.g. age, general health and treatment history)

  • types of treatment available (and whether there are any clinical trials that are suitable for you) 

  • your preferences for treatment. 

Whilst some people can be treated with surgery alone, others may need extra treatment after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer returning. Your cancer care team will decide whether it is necessary for you based on a detailed report on the cancer from the pathologist 1–2 weeks after surgery.

Adding another type of treatment after surgery is called adjuvant therapy. This can be either radiation therapy alone or combined with chemotherapy (called chemoradiation), which is typically started about 6 weeks after surgery to allow recovery and for planning purposes. The treatment itself usually lasts about 6 weeks.