Oral Cancer Surgery Side Effects
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Side Effects of Surgery for Oral Cancer
As with all cancer treatments, surgery for oral cancer can have some side effects. Your doctor will explain these potential side effects and discuss ways to help minimize or heal any problems you experience.
Many times, surgery to remove a primary tumor is simple, and the only side effect is pain that goes away shortly afterwards. However, when the procedure is more complicated, there is often a risk of infection and there may be problems with eating or speaking. Certain procedures carry particular risks:
- Glossectomy: Partial removal of the tongue usually doesn’t eliminate the ability to speak, but speech may not be as clear. Swallowing may also be affected. Both of these oral cancer surgery side effects can be addressed with speech therapy. If the entire tongue is removed, then both speaking and swallowing are no longer possible. However, reconstruction surgery and rehabilitation can help restore both of these abilities to some extent.
- Laryngectomy: Removing the voice box means that a person no longer has the ability to speak in a regular way. However, there are several ways to restore voice. Your doctor can discuss the many options for voice restoration with you before you begin treatment for oral cancer.
- Facial bone removal: Removing part of the facial bone structure may leave visible changes that can be upsetting. Recent advances in facial prostheses and plastic (reconstructive) surgery mean that appearance can be restored. These procedures can also help restore speech. These cutting-edge procedures are helping patients better manage cancer surgery side effects and live a long life filled with health and well-being.
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