Mouth or oral cancer belongs to the head and neck cancers. It develops on tissues found in the mouth, tongue and lips. More than 49,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed yearly and it is mostly found in people who are over 40 years old. As in most cases related to cancer in general, early detection significantly increases the probability of being cured. Although in the case of oral cancer, it is usually discovered after it has spread to the lymph nodes of the neck. Here are some helpful information about oral cancer, what factors might increase the risk of developing it, the stages and what to look for, as well as the metastatic mouth cancer treatments.
There are different types of oral cancers, including lips, tongue, inner cheek, hard and soft palate, gums and floor of the mouth. Your dentist is usually the first one to notice the signs of oral cancer (another reason to never skip your dental check-ups).
So, who is at risk of getting oral cancer?
On the top of the list is tobacco users, including the use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes and even chewing tobacco. Also, people who…
- have human papillomavirus infection (HPV)
- have chronic facial sun exposure daily
- were previously diagnosed with oral cancer
- have a family history of oral or other types of cancer
- have a weak immune system or are malnourished
- have some genetic syndromes
- are male. Yes, study shows that your chance of getting oral cancer is higher if you are a man.
Some of the symptoms of oral cancer are :
- Sore lips
- There is mass growing in the mouth
- Mouth bleeding
- Loose teeth
- A lump in your neck
- Weight loss
- Lower lip, face, neck, or chin numbness
- Patches in or on your mouth or lips
- Sore throat
- Jaw stiffness
- Pain in the tongue
If you have more than one of these symptoms and they just won’t go away, then you should see your dentist as soon as possible. To diagnose oral cancer, the doctor or dentist will perform a physical exam on the mouth, back of the throat, and the neck. The doctor can perform a tissue biopsy for further information.
The doctor might also need one or more of the following:
- CT scan
- PET scan
- MRI scan
Stages of oral cancers are determined by the size of the tumour and whether it has spread or not, and if it has, how far it has metastasized. The 5-year survival percentage is also indicated according to the stage of the oral cancer. Metastatic mouth cancer treatments are unique for each patient. It depends on the type, location and stage of the cancer and it includes surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Your doctor will decide which treatment is best for your case.
After the treatment is completed, a patient might need some reconstruction and rehabilitation, especially if the cancer was in an advanced stage. Sometimes speech therapy is necessary if treatment involved dental implants or grafts in case of missing bones or tissues in the mouth.
In conclusion, just like most types of cancer, the stage of cancer at diagnosis is critical. The earlier stage it is found, the bigger the possibility for the treatment to succeed. After the treatments are done, a regular checkup is a must. It usually includes physical exams, blood tests, X-rays, and CT scans.
Featured Image: DepositPhotos/ Giovanni_Cancemi