The care the patient receives may vary depending on the site and stage of the lesion. The most common first step is a biopsy where a small piece of the lesion is removed, the deficit stitched and treatment is planned on the results. If there is a friable SCC of the lip, this may be biopsied either by shaving or curettage. Tonsillar tumours may require an excisional biopsy and further surgery performed at a later date.

If the biopsy confirms mouth cancer, then definitive treatment is usually planned at that stage. This may include further surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or a combination of these. The patient may experience a number of different ill effects as a result of these interventions, which may come to the attention of dentists, doctors, pharmacists and other health care professionals.

Uncomplicated early stage mouth cancer can result in little or no morbidity as a result of treatment. Treatments for mouth cancer can lead to lasting ill effects which include:-

  • Cosmetic defects
  • Functional defects
    • speech impediments
    • dry mouth
    • inability to fully open mouth and difficulty swallowing
    • difficulty eating
  • Pain
  • Emotional issues
  • On going dental problems

Usually the patient will have had a full dental examination and general dental problems are dealt with prior to the definitive cancer treatment.