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What are the surgical options for oral cancer?

If you suffer from oral cancer, here is all you need to know about the surgical options you might have.

Written by Pavitra Sampath |Updated : February 24, 2015 12:50 PM IST

Oral cancer is quickly becoming a common condition. Some of the causes of this condition are smoking and chewing tobacco. But after the diagnosis one of the methods to get rid of this form of cancer is to get the mass surgically excised. We spoke to Dr. Mudit Agarwal, Senior Consultant, Head of Department , Head and Neck- Surgical Oncology, Max Cancer Centre, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Patparganj about the surgical options one has been diagnosed with oral cancer. Here are excerpts from the interview.

What types of surgical treatment options does one have if they are diagnosed with oral cancer?

Dr Mudit says, 'The surgical options a patient has depends on the stage of cancer, if it is pre-cancerous (lesions that appear as either white or red patches known as leukoplakia or erthroplakia) then these lesions have potential for converting into cancer and are removed using LASER CO2 surgery. In case the cancer has progressed the patient will have to undergo open surgical removal of the area followed with reconstruction surgery.'

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The type of surgery is decided based on the type and extent of cancer, so who is the best candidate for which type of surgery?

Small lesions: 'If lesion is smaller than two centimeters in size, then it is commonly excised using LASER or conventional instruments and might not require plastic surgery reconstruction.' says Dr Mudit.

Large lesions: According to Dr Mudit, 'In case of lesions larger two centimeters the mode of excision will be surgical and will require plastic reconstruction in the form of locoregional (skin taken from the area near the lesion) flap or free flap (Procedure called radial forearm free flap or anteriolateral thigh free flap or free fibular reconstruction for jaw bone -- all these procedures use skin from the forearm, thigh or shin to cover up the area) in order for the person to look cosmetically appealing and for the area to be functional again.'

What is the recovery time after these surgeries?

Although it depends on the type, extent and seriousness of the surgery the recovery time is usually about two weeks, with four to seven days of hospitalization. While this is the standard, the time does vary on how quickly the patient recovers.

What is the mortality rate of each?

Although all surgeries are major and last anywhere from one to three hours (a flap surgery lasts longer, about seven to eight hours). That being said the mortality rate of such surgeries is about one to two percent since before the procedure the patient is thoroughly worked up and treated for any other medical problem like diabetes and hypertension.

Image source: Getty Images


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