Oral cancer or mouth cancer refers to cancer that is developed in the mouth and throat tissues. It is a type of head and neck cancer that usually occurs in the squamous cells of mouth, lips and tongue. It is easily discovered once they spread to the lymph nodes and early detection of oral cancer is the key to survival.
Types of oral cancer
- Floor of the mouth
- Soft and hard palate
The signs of developing oral cancer can be noticed by a dentist
There are so many ways a person can be diagnosed with oral cancer. One of the main factors are consumption of tobacco in the form of cigarettes, cigars, pipes and other chewables containing tobacco. Large consumption of alcohol is another factor that increases the chances of developing oral cancer. Other reasons include:
- Chronic facial sun exposure
- HPV infection
- Family history of similar cancer
- Earlier diagnosis of oral cancer
Diagnosis and treatment
The diagnosis of oral cancer can be done by carefully witnessing the signs and symptoms, which usually are:
- Sore developed on lips or mouth
- Loose teeth
- Bleeding in Mouth
- Red and white patches on lips and around the mouth
- Trouble swallowing
- Pain in mouth
- Dramatic weight loss
- Numbness in mouth area
Mouth and throat along with other regions examinations performed by a dentist or doctor can confirm if the person is diagnosed with mouth cancer. Other tests include x-rays, CT scan, PET scans, Endoscopy and MRI. A biopsy can also be done where cells from the tumor is taken to see if it is cancerous.
Treatment of Oral Cancer
Early treatment of oral cancer is extremely necessary as if the cancer is in stage I or II, it can treated easily as the tumor, in such cases, hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes. However, things are quite difficult in stage III or IV where the tumor is large and generally spread to other parts of the body. Treatment methods involve:
- Surgery: Stage I and II can be treated with surgery where the tumor and cancerous lymph nodes are removed along with the surrounding cells to ensure the tumor won’t return.
- Radiation therapy: Another commonly used method of curing mouth cancer involves the physician using high energy radiation rays aimed at the tumor for a few weeks to destroy the cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: It usually involves the use of certain drugs given through a pill or intravenous (IV) line that kills the cancer cells. Sometimes, it is used with radiation therapy to increase the effects of the treatment.
- Targeted therapy: This method is quite effective in treating early and highly developed stages of cancer where certain drugs are connected to cancer cells and reduce their growth.
Any kind of cancer treatment involves side effects. Oral cancer treatment isn’t any different. There are several complications arrive depending on the kind of treatment method used and, of course, the severity of the tumor. These complications usually are:
- Mouth ulcers
- Loss of appetite
- Bad breath
- Dry mouth
- Loss or change in taste
- Hair loss
- Feeling sick
- Nausea and vomiting
Post operative care
Treatment alone won’t help you deal with oral cancer. Changes in the way you live is also expected. You will need to have a proper and nutritional diet, which is also a treatment for oral cancer. The doctor will advise you on your diet, keeping your mouth sores and throat issues in mind.
It is highly expected of you to completely give up tobacco or alcohol consumption of any type.
Keep your mouth clean and take necessary minerals and vitamins your body requires.
Frequent check ups need to be done to ensure the cancer won’t come back.