The buccal mucosa is the lining of the cheeks and the back of the lips, inside the mouth where they touch the teeth.
Early-stage cancer of the buccal mucosa is often treated with surgery. Advanced cancer cases may require a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.
Small buccal mucosa tumors are removed from the inside of the cheek with a scalpel. The size of the tumor determines the size of the incision. The surgeon will make an incision on the inside of the cheek. If the tumor is small, the surgeon will not need to incise through the cheek. This technique preserves the skin.
Reconstruction of the cheek might be needed if the tumor is large. A flap of skin, usually from the forearm, is used to reconstruct the cheek.
If the lymph nodes in the neck are affected, the nodes may need to be removed.
Medical oncologists administer chemotherapy if cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs. The medicine circulates in the blood and disrupts the growth of the cancer cells. Chemotherapy medications are taken by mouth or given through a vein for several months.
Chemotherapy is not curative for this type of tumor, but when combined with surgery it is helpful in controlling the tumor. Chemotherapy is prescribed for different reasons:
There are no symptoms in the early stage. Later symptoms include:
A doctor will examine the inside of the mouth and back of the throat to check the location and size of the tumor. Examination of the ears, nose and neck are needed to help determine if the tumor has spread.
The doctor may also order tests, including: