Rehabilitation & Follow-up Care
What is oral cancer follow-up care?
Rehabilitation is an essential aspect of post-treatment follow-up care for oral cancer. People may need physical and speech therapy, and therapy to swallow. Palliative care can be recommended for managing symptoms and for maintaining nutrition during and after treatment.
A patient can have issues with their ability to chew and pass food through the digestive system depending on the size and location of the tumor and the type of cancer treatment used. People treated for oral or oropharyngeal cancer may have long-term problems with the swallowing. To avoid these issues from occurring it is important that they continue to swallow their saliva and as much food as they can during the treatment. During treatment and immediately after treatment special nutritional care and support is also needed. Many people may need to learn new ways of eating or preparing specific foods. Working with a speech-language specialist and a registered dietitian can be of great help. Listen to a podcast about managing eating challenges after treatment.
When the treatment for cancer affects oral structures or restricts movement, it may affect the ability of a patient to speak. Speech-language pathologists can help patients resume their speech and swallow functions. Patients treated for oral or oropharyngeal cancer may look different, may feel exhausted and may not be able to talk or eat the way they did before treatment. They can experience swelling in this area called lymphedema. The health care team will help patients adapt and interact with physical as well as emotional support services.
Don’t wait until your next scheduled appointment to report any new symptoms and symptoms that don’t go away. Tell your healthcare team if you have:
- Difficulty opening the jaw (called trismus)
- Discharge from the wound
- Difficulty chewing, speaking or swallowing
- Changes in vision, hearing or taste
- Any new lump or swelling in the mouth or neck
- Weight loss