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Oral Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Stages and Treatment

Know the causes, symptoms, stages, diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer.

Published
Cancer
3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Know about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for oral cancer.</p></div>
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According to the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, oral cancer or mouth cancer can occur in any part that makes up the mouth including, the lips, tongue, inner lining of the cheeks, roof or floor of the mouth and gums.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 49,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year in the U.S., mainly affecting people above 40 years of age.

It is diagnosed when cancer spreads to the lymph nodes of the throat. It is important to detect the oral cancer at an early stage to avoid complications.

A regular check up by a dentist can help you detect oral cancer at an early stage.

Here are some basics of the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of oral cancer to know.

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Oral Cancer: Causes 

  • One of the main causes of oral cancer is the use of tobacco and it involves smoking cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco.

  • Regular use of both alcohol and tobacco also increases the risk of oral cancer.

  • According to the US NIH (National Institute of Health) NIH, men are more likely to suffer from oral cancer than women.

  • A poor immune system and lack of nutrients in the diet can also cause oral cancer.

  • Conditions of chronic facial sun exposure, oral cancer in the past, HPV infection and family history of cancer also increases your chances of oral cancer.

Oral Cancer: Symptoms 

  • A lip or a mouth sore

  • A growing mass anywhere in your mouth

  • Difficulty in swallowing

  • Bleeding gums

  • Loose teeth

  • A persistent earache

  • A lump in the neck

  • Numbness in the face, neck or mouth

  • Sudden weight loss

  • Red or white patches on lips and mouth

  • Pain in jaws or tongue

  • Sore throat

Oral Cancer: Diagnosis

  • Firstly, the doctor will go for a physical examination of the parts like throat, tongue, floor or roof of the mouth, cheeks and lymph nodes of the mouth.

  • If the doctor finds any tumor, mass or suspicious symptoms, he may go for a brush or tissue biopsy. Brush biopsy is a painless procedure in which the brush is used to collect the cells from the tumour and are tested under a microscope.

  • Tissue biopsy includes scraping off the tissues and checking them under the microscope for any cancerous cells.

  • X-ray examination may be used to check if the cancer has spread to the threat, neck or lungs.

  • A CT scan to check for any tumors in the neck, mouth, throat, tongue, lungs or other parts of the body.

  • A PET scan to check for the lymph nodes in the neck and throat, an MRI scan to check the spread and stage at which the cancer has been diagnosed.

  • An endoscopic test may be done to check for any cancerous cells in the nasal passage, sinuses, inner pipe, wind pipe and trachea.

Oral Cancer: Stages

  • At stage 1 of cancer, the tumour may be around 2 centimeters and may have not spread to the lymph nodes.

  • At stage 2 of oral cancer, the tumor may be between 2 to 4 centimeters and may have not spread any further.

  • At stage 3, the tumor may be larger than 4 centimeters, may or may have not spread to the lymph nodes.

  • At stage 4, tumor can be of any size but the cancer cells may spread to the nearby organs, tissues and lymph nodes.

According to the reports of the National Cancer Institute, around 83 precent of the cases of oral cancer do not spread, 64 percent of oral cancer did spread to the lymph nodes and in 38 percent of the cases cancer cells did spread to other parts of the body.

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Oral Cancer: Treatment

  • Surgery is one of the options for getting rid of the tumour, cancerous lymph nodes or cancer cells in the throat and neck which are removed during surgery.

  • Radiation therapy involves using a beam of X-rays that are focused on the cancer cells and these rays are used once or twice a day around 2 to 8 weeks.

  • Chemotherapy is another option for treating the cancerous cells through drugs which can either be given orally or through intravenous line. They are efficient in killing the cancer cells and advanced stages of cancer may involve both chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

  • Targeted therapy can be used to kill the cancerous cells in which the proteins and certain compounds interfere with the cancer cells and prevent them from growing further.

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