Duke doctors use a comprehensive and personalized approach to detect and treat cancers that grow in your oral cavity, including your mouth, tongue, and palate. We use sophisticated surgical techniques to remove the tumor and do everything we can to preserve your ability to function and resume your normal life.
The Best Care for Oral Cancers
Oral cancers can occur on the lips, tongue, inner cheeks, floor of the mouth, and palate. They need early diagnosis and prompt treatment to ensure the best possible outcome.
Our doctors and surgeons work closely with patients who experience mouth cancer, tongue cancer, and other oral cancers. We are expertly equipped in a range of surgical techniques to remove tumors while preserving your ability to speak and function normally. We work as a team, incorporating specialists in ear, nose, and throat surgery; medical and radiation oncology; reconstructive surgery; oral surgery; and dentistry. Our goal is to create a personalized treatment plan for the stage and type of your oral cancer. We do our best to treat your mouth cancer or tongue cancer and return you to your daily activities as quickly as possible.
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
Reconstruction and Rehabilitation
Because oral cancer can cause problems with speaking, breathing, and swallowing, we partner with speech, physical, and occupational therapists who can help you improve those functions. In addition, our expert plastic and reconstructive surgeons, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontists, and dentists coordinate the complex care required to repair damage caused by oral cancer or its treatment. Often, reconstructive surgery can take place at the same time as your cancer surgery (for example, removing a tumor). Finally, we may recommend a dental prosthesis, implant, or graft to rebuild areas in your mouth.
A small sample of tissue is removed and examined under a microscope to look for the presence of cancer.
CT, MRI, and PET scans may be used to locate and identify the type of cancer and to determine whether it has spread. We use the latest MRI technology to ensure superior imaging, and CT scans to produce superior results with less exposure to radiation.
A lighted tube is inserted in the mouth to identify cancer and determine its extent, how big it is, and what structures are involved.
Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2021–2022.
Experts in Mouth Cancer and Tongue Cancer
Nationally-Ranked Cancer Program
As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we are recognized for exploring new treatment opportunities through ongoing clinical trials. We offer you the latest research discoveries before they are available elsewhere.
Access to Ongoing Research
You may be eligible to participate in our clinical trials, which may help you or others with oral cancers.
A Comprehensive Team
Our specialists -- otolaryngologists who are experts in head and neck surgery; medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists; radiologists; dentists; reconstructive surgeons; and oral surgeons -- work together to ensure you receive the best possible care. Specially trained nurses, occupational therapists, voice therapists, and speech pathologists help you maintain or regain your ability to talk, eat, swallow, and perform other daily functions. Social workers, psychologists, and palliative care experts help you cope with the emotional and psychological effects often associated with cancer. Physical therapists and cancer nutritionists help you maintain your strength and stamina through exercise and good eating habits.
Our radiologists are specially trained to read images for tracheal cancer and have experience based on doing just that on a regular basis. We use MRI as well as CT scans, which produce superior quality images with lower doses of radiation exposure.
Support for You
Our comprehensive support services help you minimize the side effects of treatment and cope with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and care. View our cancer support groups in our event calendar.