Chemotherapy drugs for mouth cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Chemotherapy drugs for mouth cancer

Men and women discussing mouth cancer

This page is about chemotherapy drugs used to treat mouth and oropharyngeal cancer. You can find information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Chemotherapy drugs for mouth or oropharyngeal cancer

It is most common to have 2 or more chemotherapy drugs together to treat advanced cancer. You may hear this called combination chemotherapy. The most commonly used drugs are cisplatin and fluorouracil. Other drugs that doctors may use include carboplatin, bleomycin, methotrexate and docetaxel (Taxotere).

Having chemotherapy

You have the chemotherapy drugs through a drip (intravenous infusion) into a vein in your arm or into a central line, usually once every 3 or 4 weeks. Each 3 or 4 week period is known as one cycle of treatment. You will probably have between 2 and 3 cycles to begin with. If the treatment is working and you are not having too many side effects you may go on to have up to 6 cycles. 

Your own doctor will decide the exact amount of treatment you have. So the complete chemotherapy course can take 6 months or more.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating mouth cancer section.

 

 

Having chemotherapy for mouth or oropharyngeal cancer

You usually have chemotherapy for advanced cancer as cycles of treatment. You have the drugs through a drip (intravenous infusion) into your arm or central line, usually once every 3 or 4 weeks. Each 3 or 4 week period is known as one cycle of treatment. You will probably have 2 or 3 cycles to begin with. If the treatment is helping to control the cancer, you might go on to have up to 6 cycles altogether. So the complete chemotherapy course can take 6 months or more. 

Your own doctor will decide the exact number of treatments you have. It is most common to have 2 or more chemotherapy drugs together to treat cancer. You may hear this called combination chemotherapy. Using 2 or more drugs together is often more effective than using one drug.

 

Chemotherapy drugs for mouth cancer

The most commonly used chemotherapy drugs for mouth and oropharyngeal cancers are 

The underlined links take you to information about the drugs and their specific side effects.

Other drugs used less often include

Doctors are testing a combination of 3 newer chemotherapy drugs. These drugs are used in clinical trials for mouth and oropharyngeal cancers that have come back since they were first treated. These drugs are

If you are having chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the same time (known as chemoradiation or synchronous treatment), you are most likely to have cisplatin as a single drug. We have information about chemoradiation for mouth and oropharyngeal cancer in this section.

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Updated: 14 October 2014