The buccal mucosa is the lining of the cheeks and the inside of the lips.
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, a neck dissection may be needed to remove the nodes.
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:
- After surgery to decrease the risk of the cancer returning
- To slow the growth of a tumor and control symptoms when the cancer cannot be cured (palliative treatment).