Surgery ‘better than chemotherapy’ for tongue cancer

For the treatment of cancer, many would consider chemotherapy to be the best option. But for tongue cancer, new research suggests that surgery may be the most effective primary port of call. This is according to a study published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.

Based on the American Cancer Society, roughly 36,000 individuals will happen to be identified with mouth area or oropharyngeal cancers, including tongue cancer, in america throughout 2013.

The primary treatments for those who have dental and oropharyngeal cancers include surgery (partial or full elimination of the tongue for tongue cancer, adopted by extensive renovation), radiotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and palliative treatment. These may be used alone or perhaps in combination.

But scientists in the College of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, including Dr. Douglas Chepeha from the College of Michigan School Of Medicine, say patient outcomes might be enhanced if surgery was utilized because the first treatment option.

“To some youthful person with tongue cancer, chemotherapy may seem like a more sensible choice than surgery with extensive renovation,” states Dr. Chepeha.

“But patients with oral cavity cancer can’t tolerate induction chemotherapy as well as they can handle surgery with follow-up radiation. Our techniques of reconstruction are advanced and offer patients better survival and functional outcomes.”

Poor patient outcomes with induction chemotherapy

To achieve their findings, the scientists first examined 19 patients who’d advanced mouth area cancer.

All the patients had induction chemotherapy. Patients having a poor reaction to the chemotherapy then had surgery adopted by chemo, while patients whose cancer reduced by 50% had additional chemotherapy in conjunction with chemo.

Of 10 patients who’d an answer to chemotherapy, only three were built with a full response and were free from cancer five years after treatment.

From the other nine patients who received surgery following induction chemotherapy, 3 were free from cancer and alive after five years.

The investigators then analyzed a comparable group of patients, all of whom had surgery as their initial treatment followed by radiation therapy. This group saw much better survival rates and functional outcomes, according to the researchers.

The study team states the findings oppose methods for strategy to laryngeal cancer, that they say one dose of chemotherapy might help doctors discover which patients respond easier to chemotherapy and radiation, and which patients might have better outcomes with surgery.

The detectives observe that for laryngeal cancer, induction chemotherapy usually results in better patient survival and functional outcomes, as discovered by their very own previous research. However they say their findings show this isn’t the situation for tongue cancer.

Dr. Chepeha explains:

“The mouth is a very sensitive area. We know the immune system is critical in oral cavity cancer, and chemotherapy suppresses the immune system. If a person is already debilitated, they don’t do well with chemotherapy.

Despite the proven success of this strategy in laryngeal cancer, induction chemotherapy should not be an option for oral cavity cancer, and in fact it results in worse treatment-related complications compared to surgery.”

Earlier this year, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting that people with dental cavities have a lower risk of being diagnosed with head and neck cancer , compared to those with few or no dental cavities.