• Cancer;
  • oral;
  • modalities;
  • review;
  • treatment


Oral cancer is a serious life-threatening disease. Dental professionals may be the first individuals to identify/suspect these lesions before referring to oral and maxillofacial surgeons and oral medicine specialists. Because the general dentist will likely follow on with the patient’s future oral health, it is important that he or she has a basic understanding of the various treatments involved in treating oral malignancies and their respective outcomes. The four main modalities discussed in this review include surgery alone, radiotherapy alone, surgery with radiotherapy, and chemotherapy with or without surgery and radiotherapy. Chemotherapy has become an area of great interest with the introduction of new ‘targeted therapies’ demonstrating promising results in conjunction with surgery. Despite these results, the toxicities associated with chemotherapy regimens are frequent and can be severe, and therefore may not be suitable for all patients. Treatment modalities have improved significantly over the decades with overall decreases in recurrence rates, improved disease-free and overall survival, and an improved quality of life. Prognosis, however, is still ultimately dependent on the clinical stage of the tumour at the initial diagnosis with respect to size, depth, extent, and metastasis as recurrence rates and survival rates plummet with disease progression.