Head and Neck Cancer
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Oral cancer

Our experts in surgery, radiation oncology, and rehabilitation therapy collaborate to provide excellent treatment options for newly diagnosed patients and patients with advanced, and or recurrent types of oral cavity cancer.

Risk assessment

We assess oral cavity risk factors (for example, tobacco and alcohol use) with patients and encourage them to engage in educational events for cancer treatment, prevention, and care. Also, we ensure frequent follow-up procedures after surgery treatment (adjuvant therapy).

Diagnosis & treatment options

We provide a wide range of diagnostic options – pre-screening physical examination, endoscopy, biopsy, exfoliative cytology, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT (CAT scan), barium swallow, PET scan (positron emission tomography), and bone scans.

Treatment options vary depending on the stage of cancer, size and location of the tumour in the oral cavity, history of recurrence, and patient age & general health.

Newly diagnosed with oral cavity cancer

We provide two types of standard treatment:

  • surgery: wide local excision, neck dissection; where appropriate to refer for plastic surgery for reconstruction
  • radiation therapy: external and/or internal therapy, depending on the type and stage of cancer and the patient’s risk factors

Recurrent oral cavity cancer

Treatment includes:

  • surgery, if radiation therapy prior
  • radiation therapy, if surgical treatment prior

Other options include clinical trials of chemotherapy with, or without radiation therapy or hyperthermia therapy.

Advanced oral cavity cancer

Along with standard treatment, we offer hypo-fractionated radiation therapy and surgical techniques.

Supportive care and information

Clinical trials

We are active in clinical trials

We've had clinical trial studies published. These include:
  • We are one of only a few cancer centres in Canada evaluating PET (positron emission tomography) with FDG (fluora-2-deoxy-D-glucose) to monitor the effects of treatment to better inform the management of patients with advanced stage head and neck cancers.
  • COOLS Trial – Efficacy of Optically-Guided Surgery in the Management of Early-Staged Oral Cancer
  • Sleep Apnea in Patients with Oral Cavity/Oropharyngeal Surgery
  • A Retrospective Analysis of Survival Outcomes and Loco-regional Control of Oral Cavity Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) from 2004-2009: A Sunnybrook Health Science Centre Experience
  • Molecular Profiling of Oral Cavity Squamous Cell Carcinoma

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About oral cavity cancers

Oral cavity cancers include:

  • the front two-thirds of the tongue
  • gingiva (gums)
  • buccal mucosa (lining inside of the cheeks)
  • the floor or bottom of the mouth under the tongue
  • hard palate for roof of the mouth
  • retromolar trigone or behind wisdom teeth