Determining Your Prognosis

Your prognosis is a prediction of the outcome of your disease. What is the risk of succumbing to the cancer or the risk of its coming back? These are the big questions on most people’s minds after receiving a diagnosis of oral cancer. In general, doctors know there are several characteristics of the tumour that can tell you something about your chances of being cured.

The following aspects of the cancer may affect your prognosis.

Stage This is the most important factor that affects your chances of being cured.
Spread to Lymph Nodes This goes along with stage, but even without other factors, if there is spread to lymph nodes in the neck, it’s a worse chance of cure, especially if there is evidence of growth of cancer outside of the lymph node.
Tumour Margins The ability to completely remove the tumour can be a very important factor that will indicate whether you will be cured or not.
Depth of Invasion How deep the tumour goes beyond the surface can impact the chance of cure.
Spread into Local Structures Spread into large nerves, vessels, lymphatics, or even the skin of the cheek might make your prognosis worse.

It is very difficult to discuss prognosis without understanding all the details of your cancer, and this is a conversation you’re better off having in person with your doctor. To give you a percentage chance of cure is difficult because cancer research looks at all sorts of different types of cancers and may include patients from long ago.