Surgery for oral cancer aims to remove cancerous cells and a small margin of healthy tissue. The type and extent of cancer will determine the type of surgery doctors recommend.
Oral cancer is a
Oral cancer surgery is an important step in the treatment of oral cancer. It involves removing tumors and other abnormal cells from the mouth. Potential methods include traditional surgery, transoral laser resection, and robotic surgery.
This article outlines types of oral cancer surgery and the costs involved.
Surgeons usually aim to remove the tumor and any affected tissue and reduce the risk of cancer spreading to other body parts. A person may also have reconstructive surgery to restore the appearance and function of the treated area.
Doctors strongly advise people who smoke to quit before treatment begins. This can improve wound healing and increase a person’s chances of survival.
The following sections outline some types of oral cancer surgery.
Tumor resection involves
In some cases, a person may need a second surgery if doctors find cancer cells in the healthy margin of tissue around the tumor.
People with some lip cancers may be candidates for
During this procedure, surgeons remove the tumor in thin slices and examine each one for cancer cells. They repeat this process until the slice contains no visible cancer cells.
This technique allows surgeons to
In a glossectomy, surgeons remove the tongue. For small tongue cancers, a partial glossectomy — removal of about one-third of the tongue — may be enough to remove the cancer. For larger tongue cancers, surgeons may need to remove the entire tongue.
If a person has a partial glossectomy, they may experience changes to their speech afterward.
If a person undergoes a total glossectomy, surgeons will
A maxillectomy or partial maxillectomy is surgery to remove part or all of the maxilla. The maxilla is the bone that forms the upper part of the jaw, including the front of the roof of the mouth. This procedure may be necessary if cancer has grown into the hard palate.
A mandibulectomy is a surgery to remove all or part of the jaw bone or mandible.
Surgeons may need to remove only part of the jaw bone if imaging tests show no evidence of cancer.
If imaging tests reveal cancer in the jaw bone, surgeons may remove a large part. Typically, surgeons
TORS is less invasive than open surgeries for throat cancer and sometimes
When surgeons remove tumors, they may also remove tissue that a person uses for swallowing. This can increase the risk of food entering the windpipe and reaching the lungs, causing pneumonia.
To reduce the risk, surgeons may perform a laryngectomy to remove all or part of the larynx, or voice box. Surgeons make a hole, or stoma, in the front of the throat and attach the windpipe to it. People breathe and cough through the hole. Doctors refer to this as a tracheostomy.
Surgeons also perform laryngectomies to treat hypopharyngeal and laryngeal cancers.
After this surgery, people may experience
Lymph node dissection, or neck dissection, is a surgery to
- Partial/selective: Surgeons remove only some lymph nodes.
- Modified radical: Surgeons remove most lymph nodes on one side, along with some nerve tissue and muscle.
- Radical: Surgeons remove almost all lymph nodes, muscles, nerves, and veins.
The surgery cost depends on the type of surgery a person needs, how extensive it is, and its potential complications. Health insurance may cover surgery, so a person should contact their insurance company before surgery to find out the approximate cost.
Surgery plays an important role in treating early stage oral cavity cancer. It can also play a role in other early stage head and neck cancers that occur outside the oral cavity.
Oral cancer surgery is often effective at removing oral cancer tumors. Surgery may involve removing tissue from the mouth, the throat, the tongue, and other areas of the head and neck.
Many types of surgery are available for people with oral cancer. Surgeons aim to remove cancerous tissue and a margin of healthy tissue while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible. Reconstructive surgery may be necessary to restore the appearance and function of treated areas.