Cancer that starts in any part of the mouth is called "oral or mouth cancer.” Oral cancer, also called "mouth cancer," is a general term for all types of cancer that affect the inside of your mouth. Oral cancer can look like a common problem, like white spots or sores that bleed, on your lips or in your mouth. The difference between this and a normal problem is that these changes don't go away. If you don't treat oral cancer, it can spread to other parts of your mouth, throat, head, and neck. Five years after being diagnosed, about 63% of people with oral cavity cancer are still alive. Oral Cancer can affect these areas of your mouth:
- the inside area of the cheeks
- The ceiling of the mouth
- Top of the tongue (under the tongue)
Oral cancer and oral cavity cancer are both names for cancer that starts on the inside of the mouth.
What kind of oral cancer occurs most frequently?
Nine out of ten occurrences of mouth cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, making it the most prevalent kind. The skin and the inside of the mouth are two places on the body where squamous cells can be found. Adenocarcinoma, which is cancer that develops inside the salivary glands, is one of the less prevalent varieties of mouth cancer.
Who is susceptible to developing mouth cancer?
Oral cancer affects approximately 11 persons out of every 100,000 people throughout the course of their lives. Oral cancer strikes a significantly higher percentage of men than women. Oral cancer is more likely to occur in people of the white race than in people of the black race.
What are the risk factors for oral cancer?
Squamous cells in the oral cavity are the first to become affected by oral cancer. Squamous cells are characterised by their flatness and resemble fish scales when examined via a microscope.
Squamous cells that are normally healthy can transform into malignant cells when their DNA is altered and the cells begin to proliferate and divide. These malignant cells have the potential to spread to other parts of your mouth over the course of time, and subsequently to other parts of your head and neck, as well as other parts of your body.
What are the signs and symptoms of oral cancer?
There are a number of indications and symptoms of oral cancer, many of which might be confused with other issues or changes that occur in the mouth. You might, for instance, find that there are areas on the inside of your mouth that you are unable to scrape away. It's possible that these spots are the beginning stages of cancer.
How do doctors tell if someone has oral cancer?
During one of your regular checkups, your dentist may be able to tell if you have a risk of oral cancer. They may give you more tests or send you to a head and neck surgeon or an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists are another name for these doctors.
Some tests for oral cancer are:
- During the physical exam, your doctor will look at the inside of your mouth and may touch the area around your mouth. They will also look at your head, face, and neck for signs of cancer or cancer-like conditions.
- Brush biopsy also called scrape biopsy or exfoliative cytology is when a small brush or spatula is used to gently scrape the area of concern to get cells that can be tested for cancer.
- During an incisional biopsy, your doctor will cut out small pieces of your tissue to get cells that can be checked for cancer.
- Indirect laryngoscopy and pharyngoscopy: Your doctor looks at your throat, the base of your tongue, and a part of your larynx with a small mirror on a long, thin handle (voice box).
- Direct (flexible) pharyngoscopy and laryngoscopy: They may use an endoscope to look at parts of your throat and mouth that can't be seen with mirrors. An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a light and a viewing lens attached to one end.
How oral cancer is treated
Your mouth cancer therapy will depend on:
- Cancer's size and kind
- Cancer's grade and stage (how far it has spread)
- Your state of wellness
- A full recovery may be feasible with just surgery if cancer has not advanced past the mouth or the oropharynx, the area of the throat at the rear of the mouth.
If the cancer is big or has progressed to your neck, a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be needed. With the assistance and counsel of your entire care team, your doctors will prescribe a course of treatment for you, but you will make the final choice.
You might find it helpful to prepare a list of questions for the specialist before visiting the hospital to talk about your therapy. For instance, you could want to research the benefits and drawbacks of a specific medical procedure.
How to Avoid Mouth Cancer
Oral cancer is one of the ones that can be prevented the most. Some ways to lower your chances of getting oral cancer are:
- Don't use any kind of tobacco.
- At least once a year, go to the dentist for a full oral exam.
- Just a little bit of alcohol is fine.
- If you wear false teeth, take them out at night and clean them every day. At least once every five years, you should have a dentist check on them.
- Limit your time in the sun and wear lip balm with sunscreen and a brimmed hat.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes a wide range of fruits and vegetables.
Because early diagnosis gives you the best chance of treatment working. Some oral cancers may be found earlier with the help of new optical techniques that are less invasive than biopsy.
When should one go to the doctor?
If you continue to experience bothersome signs and symptoms that have been present for more than two weeks, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or dentist. Your physician will most likely begin by investigating other possible causes for your signs and symptoms, particularly those that are more prevalent, such as an infection.
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