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Psychosocial Challenges


Oral cancer treatments may have psychological and social challenges associated with them. These challenges should be recognized and addressed in overall cancer care during and after treatment.  They can affect the following domains of a person’s quality of life:


  • Finances—not all dental work is covered by health insurance; waiting for insurance coverage can slow down the process of cancer treatment resulting in some anxiety for patients; 


  • Physical functioning—while waiting to get dentures, patients may go without teeth and experience issues with pain, eating, and salivating;


  • Communication—oral treatments (e.g. tongue surgery) can affect a person’s speech and their communication with others;


  • Intimate relations—there may be sensitivity to being kissed and concerns with body image related to surgeries to the head and neck.




  • Homework such as speech and occupational exercises is critical to recovery.


  • Cancer patients typically want to know what to expect ahead of their treatments along with knowing that the negative effects will get better over time.


  • Recognize that going through oral cancer treatments is a hard journey and requires support from family caregivers, social workers, cancer support groups, and others in the patients’ health care community.


  • Peer-to-peer support can be a tremendous help and is accessible through national and community organizations such as Cancer Support Community/Gilda’s Club and Friend for Life. 


  • Cancer is a family disease and family members need support also.

For more information about psychosocial challenges and oral health, see these resources:

You may also wish to learn about:

More information regarding the following topics will be coming soon:

  • Importance of Good Oral Health Before, During, and After Cancer Care


The information on the Rhode Island Cancer and Oral Health Resource Guide, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other external materials are for informational purposes only. The Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island does not provide medical advice. The information on this website is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

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