Dr. Amit Chakraborty

Dr. Amit Chakraborty

Head & Neck Cancer Specialist
 MS, MCh – Surgical Oncology

Blogs | 16- October-2023

Stage 4 Oral Cancer: Symptoms And Treatment

Tongue Cancer Stages And Treatment<br />

Receiving a diagnosis of stage 4 oral cancer can be a challenging and overwhelming experience for patients and their families.

In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with a clear understanding of stage 4 oral cancer, its implications, available treatments, and strategies for coping with the emotional aspects of the journey ahead.

Stage 4 oral cancer is the most advanced stage of oral cancer. It indicates that the cancer has spread beyond the primary site to nearby tissues, lymph nodes, or distant parts of the body. It may also refer to recurrent cancer, which means that it has returned after previous treatment.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The symptoms of stage 4 oral cancer can vary depending on the specific location and extent of the tumor. However, common signs may include persistent pain, difficulty swallowing or speaking, a lump in the neck, unexplained weight loss, or changes in the voice.

To diagnose stage 4 oral cancer, your oral cancer specialist in Mumbai may perform various tests, including a physical examination, imaging scans (such as CT scans or MRI), biopsies, and blood tests.

These tests help determine the stage, size, and spread of the cancer, guiding the treatment plan.

Staging and Treatment Options

Stage 4 oral cancer is further divided into three subcategories: IVA, IVB, and IVC. The treatment options may vary based on the specific stage, overall health, and individual factors.

  • Stage IVA: In this stage, the cancer has not spread beyond the primary site and nearby lymph nodes. Treatment may involve a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Your oral cancer doctor will create a personalized treatment plan based on your specific situation

  • Stage IVB: At this stage, the cancer may have spread to nearby structures or lymph nodes. Treatment options may include surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy. Your doctor will discuss the potential benefits and risks of each treatment option and work with you to make informed decisions.

  • Stage IVC: This stage indicates that the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, or bones. Treatment for stage IVC oral cancer focuses on managing symptoms, improving quality of life, and prolonging survival. It may involve chemotherapy, immunotherapy, palliative care, or participation in clinical trials.

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Treatments for Stage 4 Oral Cancer

The treatment options for stage 4 oral cancer may vary depending on the specific characteristics of the tumor, overall health, and individual factors.

It’s important to remember that your oncologist will develop a personalized treatment plan based on your specific situation. Here are some common treatment modalities used for stage 4 oral cancer:

Surgery: Surgical intervention may involve removing the primary tumor, nearby lymph nodes, and any other affected tissues. In some cases, reconstructive surgery may be performed to restore the appearance and function of the affected area.

Radiation Therapy: This treatment uses high-energy rays or particles to target and kill cancer cells. It may be delivered externally (external beam radiation) or internally (brachytherapy). Radiation therapy is often used in combination with other treatments.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs that destroy cancer cells throughout the body. It may be administered orally or intravenously. Chemotherapy is commonly used in combination with other treatments to increase effectiveness.

Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy specifically targets cancer cells by interfering with specific molecules involved in cancer growth and progression. It may be used in cases where specific genetic mutations or biomarkers are present.

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy works by stimulating the body’s immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. It can help enhance the body’s natural defenses against cancer.

Clinical Trials: Participation in clinical trials may be an option for some stage 4 oral cancer patients. Clinical trials offer access to innovative treatments that are still being studied and can potentially improve outcomes.

It is important to discuss the potential benefits and risks of each treatment option with your oral cancer specialist in Mumbai. They will guide you in making informed decisions that best suit your individual needs and goals.

Coping with Stage 4 Oral Cancer

Receiving a stage 4 oral cancer diagnosis can be emotionally challenging for patients and their families. It is important to remember that you are not alone in this journey. Here are some strategies to cope with the emotional aspects:

Seek Support: Reach out to friends, family, and support groups who can provide emotional support and understanding. Consider joining online communities or local support groups where you can connect with others facing similar challenges.

Stay Informed: Educate yourself about the disease, treatment options, and potential side effects. However, be cautious with information found online and ensure it comes from reputable sources.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, staying physically active, and getting enough rest can help improve your overall well-being and support your body during treatment.

Express Your Feelings: It is natural to experience a range of emotions, including fear, sadness, anger, or anxiety. Consider talking to a therapist or counselor who specializes in cancer-related issues. Expressing your feelings in a safe and supportive environment can help alleviate emotional distress.

Engage in Relaxation Techniques: Explore relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or creative activities that can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.


Being diagnosed with stage 4 oral cancer is undoubtedly a difficult journey, but it is important to remember that there are treatment options available and support systems in place to help you navigate through this challenging time.

By staying informed, seeking support, and taking care of your emotional well-being, you can approach your treatment with hope, resilience, and a positive mindset.

Remember, every individual’s journey is unique, and your team of cancer specialists will work closely with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and goals. Stay strong, stay hopeful, and know you are not alone in this fight against cancer.

If you or someone you know is dealing with stage 4 oral cancer, we encourage you to reach out to our team of experts at SSO Cancer Hospital in Mumbai. We are here to provide compassionate care and support throughout your treatment journey.