Oral cancer is cancer that forms in the tissues of any part of the mouth or throat. There are many types of oral cancer, and most begin in the tongue and floor of the mouth. It also may develop on the lips, gums, lining of the cheeks, and roof of the mouth. Men are most at risk, especially those beyond age 40, users of tobacco or alcohol, and those with a history of head or neck cancer. Alabama ranks No. 5 in the nation for the number of oral cancer cases. About 75% of people suffering from oral cancer are seen first by their dentist before being referred for medical testing and treatment.
Symptoms of oral cancer often include common conditions that people might dismiss or assume will go away on their own. These symptoms include:
- Bleeding or sore gums
- Loose teeth
- Numbness of the lip, gums, chin, or cheeks
- A lump or mass in the neck
- Pain in the ear, jaw, or mouth
- New nasal congestion
- Nasal bleeding
- Problems or pain with swallowing
- White or red patches in the mouth
Outstanding patient care is the primary focus of the UAB Medicine Head and Neck Oncology program. As a national leader in head and neck cancer treatment, we offer a number of surgical and nonsurgical treatment options for both malignant (cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous) tumors. We use a team approach that combines the expertise of head and neck surgeons; ear, nose, and throat physicians (otolaryngologists); medical and radiation oncologists; speech and swallowing specialists; dentists and prosthetic dentists; nutritionists; speech and language pathologists; and supportive care professionals.
A group of specialists called a tumor board meets weekly to discuss treatment options for patients with new and recurring cases of oral cancer. The board considers the latest clinical trials, immunotherapy (treatments that focus on the body’s immune system), and the most advanced surgical techniques in designing a treatment plan for each individual patient. And for the convenience of our patients, especially those who live far away, our Virtual Multidisciplinary Clinic enables patients to have much of their initial assessment done in one day, often avoiding multiple visits to different doctors.
UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.View Clinical Trials
- About Your Head and Neck Reconstructive Surgery
- About Your Neck Dissection Surgery
- Laryngoscopy Biopsy
- Mandibulectomy Resection of the Jaw
- Oral Cavity Composite Resection
- Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Facts
- Partial Total Glossectomy
- Trans-Oral Robotic Surgery (TORS)
- UAB Head and Neck Cancer Support Group
- Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic
Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic
The Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic takes an interdisciplinary approach to caring for patients with serious illnesses, whether they are in active treatment or have completed treatment. Our goal is to help patients fulfill their maximum physical, emotional, spiritual, vocational, and social potential.
The health professionals at the Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic help patients manage the side effects associated with cancer. Referrals to the Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic can be made by any treating physician or nurse or by patient self-referral. A broad range of insurance is accepted.
Patient appointment scheduling is flexible and based on patient needs and other concurrent treatments. Clinic sessions are held Wednesday and Friday mornings with palliative care physicians and fellows. A physician assistant is available Monday through Friday.
Physicians and physician assistants have special expertise in complex symptom management including depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, loss of appetite, pain syndromes, and others.
Nurses support patients by facilitating the clinic sessions as well as managing communication with patients. They are the front line of patient care.
Physical therapists develop individualized programs for each patient to help with coordination, balance, strength, endurance, flexibility, or range of motion. Counselors are experienced in structuring counseling sessions to meet the specific needs of each person. Individual, couple, and family sessions are available.
Nutritionists have expertise in nutrition for patients with serious illnesses.
Massage therapists are trained in all types of massage, including oncology massage, which is a specialized approach that supports the body's health before, during, and after treatment for cancer.
Our clinic is an active teaching environment with fellows, residents, and students in both medicine and nursing participating in patient care.
The UAB Supportive Care and Survivorship Clinic is located on the 3rd floor of The Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital.
Patients can request an appointment online or by calling UAB Healthfinder at 205.934.9999 or 800.822.8816.