Intended for healthcare professionals


Treatment of oral cancer

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 11 September 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:706

Radiotherapy may be as effective as surgery

  1. Ian Kunkler, consultant in clinical oncology
  1. Western General Hospitals NHS Trust, Crewe Road, Edinburgh EH4 2XU
  2. Oxford Centre for Head and Neck Oncology, Radcliffe Infirmary NHS Trust, Oxford OX2 6HE

    EDITOR—In her review article on oral cancer,1 Zakrzewska takes a strongly surgical view of its treatment and does not give a balanced view of the benefits and toxicities of surgery and radiotherapy. I take issue with her statements that “treatment for oral cancer is principally surgical,” that “radiotherapy and chemotherapy are often used for adjuvant and adjunctive therapy,” and that “radiotherapy is rarely used as a primary treatment.” It is fairer to say that surgery and radiotherapy are the only curative treatments for oral cancer. Adjuvant chemotherapy with platinum containing regimens may improve local control but at the expense of enhanced toxicity.

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