Oral Cancer Chemotherapy Treatments
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Chemotherapy for Oral Cancer
Chemotherapy (chemo) is the treatment of cancer with drugs that destroy cancer cells and tumors. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), chemotherapy is typically reserved for patients whose oral cancer has metastasized to the bone or elsewhere in the body.
Our doctors may use oral cancer chemotherapy treatments in the following cases:
- Larger tumors: Chemotherapy may be combined with radiation therapy to control large tumors in the oral cavity or oropharynx. Several studies have shown that this approach can be as effective as surgery combined with radiation. Large tumors are rarely treated with chemo alone.
- Before surgery: Oral cancer chemotherapy treatments can help shrink tumors before surgery. Chemotherapy given before is called neoadjuvant or induction chemotherapy. Sometimes, a less radical surgery may be possible when chemo is used beforehand, which can help reduce side effects.
- Reducing symptoms: Sometimes, a tumor is too large to be completely removed and radiation is not sufficient to control the growth of cancer cells. When this happens, chemotherapy can be used to reduce the severity of symptoms caused by the cancer.
Chemotherapy drugs are often given in two- or three-drug combinations because this approach does a better job at shrinking tumors. Chemotherapy treatment for oral cancer is individualized for each patient.
Your CTCA care team will look at your blood counts and other health indicators to choose the right combination of chemotherapy drugs, along with other oral cancer treatments, and help you manage any side effects .
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