What You Need To Know About Oral Cancer

Oral cancer forms in the mouth. It mostly begins with the tongue and the floor of mouth and it’s part of the greater group of head and neck cancers. As in most cancer cases, early detection is the key to cure, but oral cancers are detected mostly after they have spread to the lymph nodes of the neck.

While anyone can get oral cancer, males over 40 and consuming tobacco products and alcohol and having a history of neck or head cancer are at greater risk.

Different parts of the mouth that may contract cancer include the lips, gums, tongue, floor of mouth, as well as hard and soft palate. It ‘s usually the dentist who notices the signs of cancer. He may ask you to undergo tests to confirm the issue.

What Are The Symptoms Of Oral Cancer?

  • White or red patches that don’t heal even after passage of considerable time
  • A sore in the mouth that won’t heal
  • Loose teeth
  • Bleeding in the mouth
  • Pain or difficulty in swallowing
  • Lump in the neck
  • Earache
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • An abnormal growth somewhere in the mouth
  • Lower lip, chin face or neck numbness

If any of the above symptoms appear and they don’t go away or if you see more than one at a time, visit the doctor immediately.

Diagnosis will constitute undergoing several physical tests. The doctor will examine several parts of the mouth including the roof and floor, the back of the throat and tongue, cheeks and lymph nodes. If there is any tumor, growth or suspicious lesion, they will prescribe a brush biopsy or a tissue biopsy. It is painless, and the cells or tissues are examined under a microscope.

The doctor may perform several other tests including X-rays, CT scan, PET scan, MRI scan and endoscopy to examine affected parts.

Oral cancer goes through four stages – Stage 1 and 2 are when a person sees a tumor or growth. While at this stage, the cancer cells have not yet spread to the lymph nodes.

Stage 3 and 4 are the advanced stages. The tumors have grown, and the cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes of the body. The survival rate of someone with oral cancer after one year for all stages is 81%. After five years, it reduces to 56%, and after ten years, it goes down to 41%.

If detected at the onset, the chances of survival increase. Timely diagnosis and treatment play a vital role in the cancer patient’s life.

How Is Oral Cancer Treated?

The treatment depends on the stage, place, and type of cancer at the time of diagnosis. Early stage treatment involves surgery to remove the cancerous lymph nodes and tumor. The doctor may also take out other tissues from in and around the affected area.

Radiation and chemotherapy are used. Targeted therapy using drugs can be effective in both the early ad advanced stages.

Nutrition is important though treatments may make it difficult to swallow food as usual and hence result in weight loss and poor appetite.