Oral cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
Oral cancer can occur in any part of the mouth, including the inside of cheeks and gums. It falls under the category of oral and oropharyngeal cancer and is often associated with head and neck cancer. Mouth cancer affects the back of your mouth and the lining of the throat. Early detection and treatment of oral cancer can help prevent it from spreading to other areas.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is caused due to uncontrolled growth of cells in some areas of the mouth. Either inside your cheeks, at the front of the tongue, or on the tissue lining of the mouth. The disease is more likely to affect both male and female. According to our cancer surgeon in Pune, mutations in the DNA of a cell can cause cancer as it stimulates the abnormal growth of the cell. Other factors that cause oral cancer includes:
- Alcohol and Tobacco Usage: Cigarette, alcohol, and tobacco contain carcinogenic substances which significantly increases your risk of mouth cancer.
- Age: The average age of oral cancer diagnosis has been reported as 60-62 years.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV): It is a sexually transmitted infection which has proved to be strongly linked to oral cancer.
- Sun Exposure: Too much exposure to the sun can burn your skin, including your lips, which significantly triggers the risk of oral cancer.
- Gender: Although it remains unclear, experts suggest that men are twice more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
Oral cancer is hard to detect at an early stage. Therefore, our department of oral cancer treatment in Pune recommend patients to at least visit a dental clinic for regular dental checkups and help your dentist spot any signs of cancer at an early stage. Other symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Leukoplakia: A condition in which white patches form around the mouth which doesn’t disappear quickly.
- Oral Lichen Planus: Formation of white lines with red borders, often with ulceration.
- Red or white patches on the lining of the mouth
- Bleeding, pain, and numbness inside the mouth
- Mouth ulcers or sores that don’t heal easily
- Loose teeth
- Ill-fitted dentures
- Swelling in the jaw
- Sore throat or feeling like something is stuck in your throat
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Difficulty moving the tongue or the jaw
- A lump formation or lining in the throat
Notably, these symptoms might not mean a patient has mouth cancer, but it is best to visit our cancer surgeon in Pune for the best treatment advice.
If a person has encountered any of the symptoms mentioned above, he/she must immediately visit their doctor. The doctor will:
- Ask you about the signs and health conditions
- Evaluate and examine your physical health by running a few tests
- Discuss your personal and family medical history
A small sample of tissue will be collected by your doctor to check for any cancerous cells. Further, the doctor performs a biopsy to determine the stage of cancer. It is often a painless biopsy where the doctor collects the cells using a special kind of brush. The treatment for oral cancer depends on the following factors:
- The stage, location, and type of cancer
- The patient’s overall health condition
Following this, your surgeon will recommend one of the following treatment approaches:
1) Surgery: To remove the tumor and a small portion of healthy tissue around it. The operation includes removing a part of the tongue, jawbone, and lymph nodes. In case the surgery affects the patient’s facial appearance or affect their ability to eat, reconstructive surgery might be needed.
2) Radiation Therapy: A beam of high-energy X-rays or radiation particles are used to damage the DNA inside the tumor cells and stop its ability to reproduce. Radiation therapy is best suited for patients who do not smoke or have quit smoking.
3) Chemotherapy: It includes powerful medicines to damage the cancerous cells and destroy its ability to reproduce.
Like any other health condition, you can prevent the risk of oral cancer with few tips and healthy guidelines:
- Avoid eating tobacco
- Quit smoking
- Limit your alcohol consumption
- Maintain a healthy and balanced diet
- When stepping outside in the sun, apply sun cream, sunblock, and lip balm on your lips
- Exercise regularly to keep a healthy body
- Maintain a good oral hygiene
- Visit your dentist twice in a year for regular dental checkups
Early warning signs of oral cancer can help you get effective treatment with successful results. If you find any symptoms of oral cancer, make immediate contact with Deccan Clinic.