Common Signs & Symptoms of Oral Cancer:
- Swelling or thickening of you gums; lumps or bumps, rough spots, or crust around or on the lips, gums, or other areas within the oral cavity (inside the mouth )
- Development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Loss of feeling or numbness around you face, mouth, and neck
- Tenderness or pain around the mouth, face, or neck
- Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that do not heal within 10-14 days and have the tendency to bleed easily
- A feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat in combination with soreness
- Difficulty speaking, chewing, and swallowing or moving the tongue and jaw
- moving of the tongue and the jaw
- Chronic sore throat
- Changes in your voice
- Drastic weightloss
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, contact your dentist immediately for a professional examination.
Risk factors of Oral Cancer
Risk factors in the development of oral cancer include:
- Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. It is hypothesized that smokers are 6 times more prone to develop oral cancer than non-smokers. This includes the use of other tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco snuff, tobacco, or dip tobacco. Signs of cancer show up on the lips, cheeks, and gums.
- 2. The excessive consumption of alcohol. Like tobacco, oral cancers are about six times more common within the group of excessive drinkers than in non-drinkers.
- A history of cancer within the family
- Excessive sun exposure at a young age
It is important to understand that more than 25% of all oral cancers can occur in people who are not susceptive to smoke at all and who drink alcohol only occasionally.
Diagnosis of Oral Cancer
During the routine part of a comprehensive dental examination, your dentist may conduct an oral cancer screening, during which he or she will feel for any lumps around your neck, head, and face. The dentist will also check those same areas for any sores or irregular tissue.
If any suspicious-looking tissue is detected, a painless oral brush biopsy will be performed. This is done by taking a small sample of tissue in order to identify any abnormal cells.
Tissue that looks abnormal or more suspicious a scalpel biopsy will be performed. This can be done by your dentist or by a referred specialist which requires local anesthesia. For the early detection, these tests are necessary to prevent the cancer from progressing and spreading.
Treatment of Oral Cancer
Any kind of cancer creates a great deal of stress for you, the patient, not only because of the cancer itself, but because of the accompanying pain around the head, neck, and tongue. Modern medicine increases the chances of curing cancer altogether and restoring the patient’s good health and state of mind.
The first treatment option is usually drug treatment, such as chemotherapy. When the drugs are introduced into your body, they have the ability to travel directly to the cancer and destroy the cancerous growth by killing the infected tissue. These days, chemotherapy is far more precise than in the past. However, there is always a chance that healthy tissue surrounding the cancer area will be also be damaged. Possible side effects include nausea, diarrhea, and hair loss.
Another possible treatment is radiation, which kills the cancerous tissue very quickly. Radiation via targeted X-ray exposure or the insertion of wires to release the radiation at the point of the cancer is preferred by some doctors. While this can be very effective, the possible side effects include tooth decay, dry mouth, and bleeding of the gums.
Surgery is the next step to eradicate the cancer if chemotherapy or radiation was not effective. This is the most serious approach and, in most cases, involves multiple surgeries. The first surgery will remove the cancerous growth from the neck or the oral cavity. If the cancer affected the tongue, jaw, or cheeks, reconstructive surgery is necessary once the patient had time to recover and heal from the first surgery. This can take months to complete the overall treatment. In the early stages of cancer, noninvasive procedures often work, but advanced stages typically require surgery.
The successful treatment of different types of cancer depends on several key factors. The treatment is based on the development and the stage of the cancer. The danger is that the cancer may spread to vital organs within the area or, in an advanced stage, may already have metastasized. Physicians base their course of treatment action on the rate of development associated with the growths of the cancerous tissue. The danger is that the cancer spreads to vital organs in the immediate area, at which point invasive surgery may be necessary. Noninvasive methods work well only in the earliest stages.
What can you do to prevent oral cancer:
- Spots within the oral cavity can be very tiny and very difficult to see. Conducting frequent self-exams using a bright light and a mirror to view the inside of your mouth and the back gums is the right active role in preventing or detecting the early stages of oral cancer. Scheduling regular appointments with your dentist and for an oral cancer screening is the best method to detect oral cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that people over 20 should have a cancer screening every 3 years. For people over 40, an oral cancer exam should be performed every year. The early detection can improve the success of treatment.
- Alcohol should be used in moderation.
- The use of tobacco products should be eliminated or at least used in moderation for your protection.
- Eating a well-balanced diet is preferred
- Exposure to the sun should be limited as well. The use of UV-A/B protective sun lotion is recommended. Ongoing exposure can increase the risk of cancer, especially on the lower lip.