Cancer is said to be an uncontrollable growth of cancerous cells that invade and lead to damages to surrounding tissues. Oral cancer is also called as cancer of mouth. This cancer occurs in any region of the mouth. It can occur on surface of the tongue, inner cheek, gums, lips or teeth, palate, tonsils, salivary glands, etc. This type of cancer is a neck or head cancer and is also treated in the same way. There are around 34,000 Americans who are diagnosed with oral pharyngeal cancer every year. About 8000 of them die annually due to the condition. Most cases of oral cancer occur in people ageing above 40 years. Mouth cancer is common in men as compared to women.
Who are at risk of developing Oral Cancer?
Men are at twice the risk of developing oral cancer as compared to women. Greatest risk of oral cancer is to men who are above the age of 50 years. It is estimated that over 35,000 people in United States were diagnosed with oral cancer in 2008.
- Smoking is one of the most common causes of oral cancer; those who smoke cigarette, cigar or pipe are 6 times more vulnerable to developing cancer of mouth
- People who even chew tobacco are at increased risk of suffering from mouth cancer
- Mouth cancer is also more common in people who consume excessive alcohol
- Genetic issues are also considered as common cause of cancer
Symptoms of oral cancer
During initial stages most people do not have any symptoms and the conditions are nondescript. Hence, it is essential for people who smoke or drink to undergo regular check-up to detect insidious prevalence of cancer. Dentist can often detect possibilities of oral cancer. Some common signs and symptoms of the condition include:
- Patches appearing on the inner mouth and tongue; these patches appear reddish or white-reddish color
- Ulcer in the mouth do not alleviate
- Sores that do not heal
- Swelling appear in mouth which lasts for over three weeks
- Thickening of skin or lump development in inner lining of mouth
- Experiencing pain while swallowing
- Losing tooth for no reason
- Inappropriate dentures
- Pain in jaw
- Stiffness of the jaw
- Soreness of throat
- Sensation that something in stuck in your throat
- Pain in tongue
- Hoarse voice
- Neck pain that does not go away
You need to see a doctor if you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms. Though these are signs of oral cancer there are also other anomalies which can lead to similar symptoms.
Causes of oral cancer
Cancer is said to occur when the DNA structure chances which is called genetic mutation. DNA is fundamental set of instructions in cells provided by DNA similar to a program in computer. These DNA instruction tells cells about when to grow, reproduce or die including other things. Genetic mutation causes cells to grow in uncontrollable way which eventually lead to production of lump or cancerous tumor. If cancer is left untreated it can aggravate and spread to other surrounding regions. It metastasizes through lymphatic system or series of glands that exists throughout the body. These glands also produce many cells associated with the immune system. As soon as the cancer metastasizes to lymphatic system it can reach anywhere on the body including bones, organs and blood. Cancerous cell multiply their selves and grow.
Cancer is caused due to uncontrollable growth of cells as they do not die. Normal bodily cells follow an orderly process of growth, division and death. Cell death caused by DNA in accordance to the natural bodily process is called apoptosis. Cancer begins to form when this process is hindered. Cancerous cells do not follow instructions of the DNA which is why they do not die orderly and continue to grow and invade other body regions. Oral cancer first metastasizes to other parts in the mouth and then to neck and so on.
Treatment options for oral cancer
Treatment of oral cancer depends on several factors like spot of affliction, severity and overall health of patients as well as personal preferences. Some patients are suggested a combination of treatments.
Grown cancerous tumor can be removed surgically as well as surrounding healthy tissue to form a margin and avoid any chances of metastasizing. Minor surgery can be done to treat smaller tumor. Larger tumor will be helpful in completing more severe cases of cancer.
Mouth reconstruction is needed in certain cases wherein appearance of face has significantly changed due to affliction of cancer. Radiotherapy is another effective way of dealing with cancer. This procedure involves high energy x-rays or radiation to destroy cancer cells in the body. Chemotherapy is another effective treatment which is commonly used along with radiotherapy. Chemotherapy when combine with radiotherapy can reduce risk of recurrence of the disease. Cancer is a serious condition which should be treated timely and medicines should be taken according to instructions from a doctor.