Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer Awareness Month & Ribbon
Month April 
Ribbon Red and White Color

 

  • Growth of cancerous cells in any part of the oral cavity is known as oral cancer. Mostly it starts in the tongue and bottom of the mouth. Oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body such as neck, lung etc. Those abnormal cells are oral cancer cells and the disease is not lung cancer but metastatic oral cancer.

  • Oral cancer, as the name suggests, is the cancerous growth observed in the oral cavity i.e. mouth and regions near it. The cancerous growth can be detected in any one of the glands situated in and around the oral region like tonsil or even melanoma.
  • There are many basic distinctions between the types of oral cancers but a majority of the cases are squamous cell carcinomas. This type mainly originates in the tissue lining the mouth and the lips.
  • The main part of the body to which oral cancer is related is the tongue. But in some cases cancerous growth is also observed in the cheeks, the floor and the roof of the mouth, gums etc.
  • Oral cancer is also pretty aggressive in nature which means that it tends to spend rapidly and can cause a lot of harm.

Signs and Symptoms of oral cancer

  • Oral cancer can be detected by observing and looking out for certain symptoms like lesions or lumps in the tissue. It can also be in the form of an ulcer and be present on the tongue or in other areas of the mouth.
  • These lesions or lumps are not clearly visible and do not stand out. Thus they are hard to notice especially if it is on the floor of the mouth. The color of these ulcers or lesions is pale white most of the times but in a few cases it is also observed to be dark and discolored.
  • Such white patches seen on the tissue of the mouth are called Leukoplakia and red patches are called Erythroplakia. Another reason due to which it is difficult to detect oral cancer is that these patches or lesions are painless and the sensation of pain does not intensify until the cancer has advanced.
  • In a few cases, symptoms such as mouth sores, difficulty with swallowing etc were experienced by certain patients in the later stages of cancer

Causes of oral cancer

  • The major cause of occurrence of oral cancer across the globe is smoking. Statistical data collected suggests that 75% of the total oral cancer cases are related to smoking or other tobacco products.
  • The mucous membrane of the mouth suffers irritation due to the heat as well as the smoke which are byproducts of cigarettes, cigars etc. The main product used here is tobacco which has over 60 known carcinogens which have a huge negative effect on the tissues in the mouth as well as to the respiratory system.
  • Chewing tobacco also causes cancer as here; the tissue is in direct contact with the tissue. Alcohol is another substance which is said to cause oral cancer or at least help in spreading it to other areas.
  • The risk of cancer is doubled when the person consumes copious amounts of alcohol and is a chain smoker as well. Even mouthwash containing alcohol is dangerous as this alcohol acts as etiologic agents. As the tissue is constantly exposed to such substances, the risk of oral cancer increases significantly.

Treatment for oral cancer

  • In most of the cases if the cancer growth is substantial, the first course of action is to perform surgery and get rid of the malignant, cancerous growth so as to avoid its spread to other parts as well.
  • The treatment however does not end here as the person also has to undergo radiation therapy and chemotherapy etc. Normally, chemotherapy is avoided if the cancer has not developed as the body suffers a lot from chemo.
  • Maxillectomy, Mandibulectomy, Glossectomy etc are the type of surgeries undertaken for the removal of oral cancer.
  • One can reduce the chances of oral cancer by staying away from smoking and drinking moderately and leading a healthy lifestyle.

Growth of cancerous cells in any part of the oral cavity is known as oral cancer. Mostly it starts in the tongue and bottom of the mouth. Oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body such as neck, lung etc. Those abnormal cells are oral cancer cells and the disease is not lung cancer but metastatic oral cancer.

Test Procedures

The abnormal cells in the mouth can form tumor and after growth the tumor turns into ulcer and bleed. If you have any difficulties in swallowing, chewing or talking, visit a dentist. He checks your mouth and throat for white or red patches. If he finds any affected area, a small sample is collected from that part to know whether the cells are cancerous or not. The common and popular method of detecting oral cancer is biopsy and evaluation of the removed sample under microscope.

Preventive Measures

The following are some of the preventive measures to reduce the risk of oral cancer:

  • Stop chewing smokeless tobacco.
  • Stop drinking alcohol.
  • Avoid both direct and passive smoking.
  • Minimize your exposure to sunlight. Put on a hat and use lip balm with sunscreen which will protect your lips from unsafe sun rays.
  • Visit your dentist for regular check up.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.

Treatment Cost

The approximate cost estimated for treatment of oral cancer is $7000. However, the treatment cost depends on various factors like the stage of oral cancer, method of treatment etc. Hence, expenses will be different for different oral cancer patients.

Side Effects

The side effects of treatment of oral cancer are different for different types of treatment methods followed like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, targeted drug therapy etc. Measure side effects of oral cancer treatment are listed below:

  • Fatigue
  • Skin changes
  • Changes in the thyroid
  • Taste and smell changes
  • Problem in dentures i.e. artificial teeth for either the upper or lower jaw
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Infection inside mouth
  • Sore or bleeding gums
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat or mouth
  • Tooth decay
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Hair loss

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