By quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake, many oral cancers can be prevented. Staying out of the sun also decreases the risk of lip cancer.
Treatment for oral and lip cancers depends on how far the cancer has spread and on individual needs. Treatment may include radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy – either separately or in combination.
Radiation is used as the main treatment, after surgery, or to relieve pain for people with advanced oral cancer. The side effects will depend on the area that is receiving the radiation. Some general side effects include feeling tired, skin redness, and mouth irritation. Radiation can also cause dry mouth, which can last a long time. Since radiation can cause dental problems, any existing dental problems are always treated and given enough time to properly heal before radiation therapy is underway.
Surgery is another treatment option for oral cancer. If the cancer is removed before it has spread to the lymph nodes, the cure rate is much higher. Surgery is also used to remove lymph nodes and to reconstruct areas of the mouth or face after the cancer has been removed.
Chemotherapy is typically reserved for cancers that have spread and it's combined with other treatment strategies (i.e., surgery or radiation).
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