Once diagnosed with oral cancer, every survivor needs to obtain a second opinion about treatment options. Surgery and radiation with no chemo? Chemo and radiation with no surgery? How invasive is the surgery? How targeted is the radiation? How much chemotherapy? Hopefully, both opinion one seeks will be about the same. Then the choice becomes about which doctor the patient is more comfortable with and the convenience of the hospital. The bottom line is GET A SECOND OPINION.
The famous chef Grant Achetz decided not to do surgery because he was afraid of losing taste. Well, the chemo radiation option stole a lot of his ability to taste. When I watched a recent documentary called Spinning Plates which included his story as one of three chefs, it looked like he did ultimately have surgery because he had the familiar white patch I had, like there is a wad of gum in your mouth when you speak. Perhaps, if he read this article on surgery vs just chemo/radiation he would have changed his mind.
I’m always amazed at how many options there are for the same disease. There doesn’t seem to be a protocol. But the flip side is that no two oral cancers are alike so the treatment will vary. What’s most important is to know your options. Choose the option that is right for you. Age, dependents, happiness, and health are all factors in deciding on the treatment plan you choose.
If you are seeking some extra support or advice on making that decision, feel free to contact me!