Oral cancer is of different types. Lip cancer, tongue cancer, and mouth cancer are also oral cancers. However, squamous cell carcinoma, verrucous carcinoma, minor salivary gland carcinomas, lymphoma, Leukoplakia, and erythroplakia are different classic types of oral cancer. However, a benign tumor can also develop in the oral cavity.
Oral cancer medication
Chemotherapeutic drugs are given orally or inject into the oral cavity. Thus, the drug enters the bloodstream and reaches the cancer cell to restrict the spreading of cancer. Oral cancer medications are different types of chemotherapeutic agents.
The generalized recommendation for Oral cancer medication
- Chemotherapy is combined with radiation to avoid surgical intervention. This combination treatment regimen is known as chemoradiation.
- Oral cancer medication can also be used as adjuvant therapy in combination with radiation therapy after surgery to kill remaining small cancer cells that cannot be removed through the surgical process.
- Sometimes oral cancer medication is also given prior to surgery for shrinking the larger cancer. This process is clinically termed as induction chemotherapy or neoadjuvant. The goal of prescribing oral cancer medication is to reduce the possibility of removing major tissue parts through surgical intervention. This also lessens the adverse effect of surgical intervention.
- Oral cancer medication can also be used for treating cancer which is spread to a larger part of the oral cavity or even distant organs and not is possible to remove through surgery. The aim of prescribing oral cancer medication to slow down cancer growth and to provide symptomatic relief.
Types of Oral cancer medications
Some of the very common cancer medications or simply termed as chemo drugs for oral cavity or oropharynx cancers are Carboplatin, Cisplatin, Docetaxel, 5-fluorouracil, Hydroxyurea, and Paclitaxel.
Apart from these commonly used oral cancer medications, some less commonly used chemo drugs for oral cancer are Bleomucin, Capecitabine, and Methotrexate.
Oral cancer medications are used singly or in combination. A combination of oral cancer medications is better to shrink the tumor. But the risk of side effects is more in combination therapy than single oral cancer medication. A combination of Cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil is commonly used for shrinking oral and oropharynx cancer. Cisplatin, 5-FU, and docetaxel are another combination to treat oral cancer.
Cancer drugs are given for a period and followed by a rest period to recover the body. Each cancer medication therapy lasts for a few weeks.
Side effects of oral cancer medications
The cancer medications have some common side effects like hair loss, mouth sores, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood count. However, the severity of these side effects depends upon the duration and dosing of the therapy.
The low blood cell count occurs due to chemo drugs that affect the bone marrow. Thus, patients become more susceptible to infection, the risk of bleeding becomes increases due to low platelet count in blood, and easy to get fatigued.
Apart from these generalized symptoms, the chances of medicine specific side effects also occur. For example, damages of the nerve (neuropathy) are a common symptom with Cisplatin, docetaxel, and paclitaxel, whereas diarrhea occurs with 5-FU. Intravenous administration of Cisplatin can cause kidney damage.