Oral cancer is a serious disease that forms in the soft tissues of the throat or mouth. This type of cancer is part of a bigger group of cancers known as head and neck cancers. Oral cancer typically forms in cells found in the tongue, mouth and lips.
In the most recent year that statistics were kept, 49,000 cases of oral cancer were diagnosed. The most common diagnosis of oral cancer is among those over the age of forty. This type of cancer is most commonly detected once it has spread to the lymph nodes. As with most forms of cancer, early detection is the key to survival.
Unsurprisingly, tobacco use is one of the largest risk factors for developing oral cancer. This includes cigarette smoking, pipes and cigars, as well as chewing tobacco. Your risk of developing oral cancer also increases if you regularly consume large amounts of alcohol.
Other risk factors for oral cancer include regular facial sun exposure, a weakened immune system, a family history of the disease, being male, or a previous oral cancer diagnosis.
Some symptoms of oral cancer include a sore in your mouth or on your lip that does not heal, mouth bleeding, difficulty or pain swallowing, or a growth or mass found in your mouth.
Additional symptoms include a sore throat, jaw stiffness or pain, tongue pain, a persistent earache, colored patches on your lips or in your mouth, and dramatic weight loss.
Surgical intervention typically involves removing the growth and any affected lymph nodes. Soft tissues in your mouth and around your neck may also be removed.
Another treatment option involves radiation therapy, in which your doctor directs radiation beams at the tumor growth during set intervals. Advanced stages of oral cancer usually consist of a mixture of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
As we mentioned earlier, oral cancer is more easily treated when detected early. Your prognosis depends upon what type and stage of cancer that you are in. Other factors include your age, general health, and responsiveness to treatment. Once you have been treated, your doctor will advise you to undergo regular checkups to ensure that you are recovering properly. During your checkups, you may undergo blood tests, physical exams, CT scans and x-rays.
Your dental professionals tend to be the first healthcare providers to detect early signs of oral cancer.
Please contact the office of Image Dental & Orthodontics if you suspect that you are a loved one have oral cancer or require more information about this serious disease.