The Carol and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center Oral Oncology Program treats cancers of the mouth or oral cavity. These cancers may originate in the mouth, may affect the mouth from metastasis, or may spread from a neighboring part of the body. Once they reach the mouth, oral cancer usually occurs in the tissues that line the mouth, the tissue surrounding the lips, or on the tongue.
When seeking a diagnosis or treatment of oral cancer, the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Oral Oncology program offers some unique advantages. Our skilled and experienced oral oncology practitioners work closely with the internationally recognized dental faculty from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine to provide the most thorough and comprehensive care available.
Patients at the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center have a team of medical professionals available to them including radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, surgeons, rehabilitation specialists, nutritionists, and social workers. Specialists in neurologic surgery, prosthodontics, plastic surgery, oculoplastic surgery, and dermatologic surgery are ready to assist as needed.
Dental Medicine/Oral Oncology Services
Expert faculty and staff at the UConn School of Dental Medicine work together with the oral oncology team to provide state-of-the-art, coordinated care addressing the special dental needs and considerations of patients diagnosed with oral cancer.
The Oral Oncology team includes professionals from the following areas:
- Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology Biopsy Service: The only oral pathology biopsy service in Connecticut, this service reviews approximately 4,300 diagnostic specimens annually. Board-certified oral pathologists provide oral diagnostic services based on the latest research and innovations in healthcare
- General Dentistry: Comprehensive oral assessment and treatment for cancer patients requiring urgent dental care in the Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) clinic. Clinical trials are available, including studies focused on oral mucositis, a common side effect of cancer treatments
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Plate reconstruction of the jaw, bone grafts, dental implants, and tooth extractions
- Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology: Dental and oral imaging for assessment and diagnosis of dental conditions that occur before and after cancer treatment
- Prosthodontics: Prosthetic reconstruction of oral defects resulting from cancer surgery performed in the prosthodontic clinic
What to Expect During Your Dental/Oral Oncology Appointment
Patients who will receive radiation treatment to the mouth should get a complete dental examination prior to starting radiation treatment. Radiation treatment can increase risks to the teeth and bone in the years following treatment. If a complete series of dental x-rays has not been recently taken, these will be needed as well.
Dentists who specialize in the effects of medical conditions and treatments on the mouth will evaluate the teeth, bones, gums and other oral tissues to determine the patient’s level of risk for dental complications in the future. Any recommended dental treatment needs that are identified can be quickly accommodated to allow radiation treatment to begin as soon as possible. Services are arranged through either the patient’s community dentist or a dentist on site at UConn Health.
Kamran Safavi, D.M.D., M.Ed.
Eric F. Ruiz, D.D.S.
Felipe Porto, D.D.S., M.S.
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
Alan Lurie, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Rajesh V. Lalla, D.D.S., Ph.D., CCRP
Douglas E. Peterson, D.M.D., Ph.D.
Linda Choquette, R.D.H., MSHS, CCRP
Oral Pathology Biopsy Service
Ellen Eisenberg, D.M.D.
Easwar Natarajan, B.D.S., D.M.Sc.
Patricia I. Diaz, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D.
Anna Dongari-Bagtzoglou, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D.
Thomas Taylor, D.D.S., M.S.D.
John Agar, D.D.S., M.A.
Avinash S. Bidra, B.D.S., M.S., FACP