There are very few words that have the power to stop someone in their tracks. “You have oral cancer” are 4 words that can derail your entire life and leave you feeling fearful and overwhelmed. These feelings are ok. In fact, they are completely normal. DON’T feel like you shouldn’t be affected by this news, but DO try and find out as much as you can about your type of cancer. The more you know, the more those feelings will dissolve. You will also have a better understanding of what is going on and can make better decisions with your health care team.
Anytime you get diagnosed with a major health problem, you have the option to get a second opinion. Second opinions allow a different doctor to review the diagnosis and treatment options. Taking a proactive approach to your diagnosis can help you feel more empowered.
You will most likely undergo a series of tests to help the doctor determine all the details of your oral cancer. The details will help a doctor “stage” your cancer. There are 4 stages of oral cancer. Stage 1 is less aggressive and stage 4 is the most aggressive 1. X-rays, CT scans and MRI’s are all options for doctors to help find out if your oral cancer has spread.
When discussing your treatment options questions are by far the most reliable means to gather information. Below is a list of 5 important questions you should ask your doctor about your treatment plan:
1) What treatments do you think are best for me and why?
2) What is the success rate of this particular treatment for my type and stage of oral cancer?
3) During treatment, will I be able to go to work and be around my family?
4) What side effects can I expect to encounter?
5) Are there any clinical trials I should look into?
Discuss these questions with your doctor and your family to decide what the best option for you is. Remember, there are many support groups dedicated to cancer victims and their families. Get involved and learn to cope with you diagnosis the best you possibly can.
“National Cancer Institute.” What You Need To Know About Oral Cancer -. Web. 29 Mar. 2012. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/oral/page7>.