Is More Extensive Surgery Better for Early-Stage Oral Cancer? – Research from the 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting

May 31, 2015
Amber Bauer, ASCO staff

For many people, getting the best cancer care means undergoing extensive testing and treatment. It means being “proactive” and rooting out any potentially cancerous cells before they can grow and spread.

Although the idea that more and earlier treatment is better makes sense, researchers have found that in some cases, like childhood cancers and melanoma, a more aggressive approach to treatment does not improve or lengthen lives.

But what about for people with early-stage oral cancer?

Oral cancer is often successfully treated with surgery to remove the tumor. However, the cancer can come back and spread to the lymph nodes in the neck. Generally, people have two options:

  1. To remove groups of lymph nodes in the neck before the cancer comes back, or

  2. Remove the lymph nodes after the cancer has come back.

For 50 years, doctors have struggled to advise their patients on which option is best, especially since this type of surgery can cause serious side effects. A new study presented today at the 2015 ASCO Annual meeting has provided these long-awaited answers. share on twitter 

In this podcast, Jyoti D. Patel, MD, an associate professor of Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL, discusses the results of this study. She also explains how this research will affect the care of people with oral cancer around the world.

This is a prerecorded audio podcast, and it can be listened to online or downloaded to your computer. A transcript of this podcast is also available. For more information, visit the Cancer.Net podcast page.

Results from three other plenary studies were announced during a press conference today. The plenary session of ASCO’s Annual Meeting features the most important cancer research with the greatest potential to change patient care.