Rehabilitation of the patient is an important phase of cancer care and should be
included right from the time of diagnosis in a complete and comprehensive treatment
plan. Surgery and radiation therapy can cause large defects accompanied by dysfunction
and disfigurement. Besides this, speech, swallowing, control of saliva and mastication
can all be severely affected.
Rehabilitation may include:
- Dietary counselling: Many patients recuperating from oral cancer
surgery find it difficult to eat. Therefore, it may be recommended that they eat
small meals comprising of soft, moist preparations.
- Surgery: In some patients, reconstructive or plastic surgery to
restore the bones or tissue of the mouth may be beneficial. It also helps to restore
a normal appearance.
- Prosthesis: Sometimes, reconstructive or plastic surgery is not
possible because of their advanced age, poor health, very large deformity or poor
blood supply to irradiated tissue. At such times, a dental or facial-part prosthesis
may be beneficial to restore a more normal appearance. One may require special training
to learn to use a prosthetic device. Maxillofacial prosthetic rehabilitation has
three main advantages. It requires little or no additional surgery, it can decrease
hospital stay and often the results are more aesthetically pleasing and less invasive
than plastic surgery.
- Speech therapy: This therapy benefits patients who experience difficulty
in speaking after oral cancer treatment.