International Journal of Clinical Oncology

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 423–430 | Cite as

Current status of oral cancer treatment strategies: surgical treatments for oral squamous cell carcinoma

Review Article


The primary treatment modality of oral cancer is generally determined according to the stage of the disease, with surgical treatment remaining the mainstay of multimodal treatment. When selecting the treatment, many factors are taken into consideration, and the treatment should be tailored individually to the patient’s needs and consider the quality of life as well as the survival of the patient. Early-stage disease is primarily managed with surgery or brachytherapy without functional morbidity, whereas for advanced-stage disease multidisciplinary treatment is recommended, not only for enhanced survival but also for improved quality of life. After resection of large primary tumors, reconstructive surgery is required. Free tissue transfer currently represents one of the most popular and reliable techniques for oral reconstruction. For cN0 neck, elective neck dissection is recommended when the risk of occult metastases is >20 %, when the neck is entered either for resection of the primary tumor or for reconstruction, or when the patient is unlikely to return for a close follow-up. Sentinel node biopsy is performed investigationally. Modified radical neck dissection is the gold standard for cN+ neck. For patients with multiple node metastases or extracapsular spread, postoperative radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy is recommended, with the lymph nodes situated outside the confines of the radical neck dissection, such as the lingual and retropharyngeal nodes, receiving considerable attention. Targeted therapy for oral cancer is still a relatively new concept, and more studies are needed to confirm the clinical effectiveness of these drugs.


Multidisciplinary treatment Postoperative chemoradiotherapy Quality of life 


Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Japan Society of Clinical Oncology 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Graduate SchoolTokyo Medical and Dental UniversityTokyoJapan

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