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Understanding Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is defined as the uncontrolled growth of cells that happens in the oral cavity which includes lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat). This may appear as sore in the mouth that does not go away.  

Risk Factors of Oral Cancer

  • Smoking: It is one of the leading causes and people who smoke cigarette, cigar, or pipe smokers are highly prone to develop oral cancers
  • Tobacco Consumption: Tobacco consumption in any form is highly dangerous and makes an individual prone to oral cancer
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Family history

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

  • Constant feeling of soreness or something caught in the back of the throat
  • Difficulty in chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
  • Hoarseness that leads to change in voice
  • Pain in the ear
  • A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Presence of white, red, or speckled sores in the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding and numbness
  • Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that do not heal  

Also read about Head and Neck Cancer Causes and Symptoms

Diagnosis of Oral Cancer

When your dentist conducts routine dental exam, he might also carry out an oral cancer screening exam. The dentist here would check for lumps in your neck, head, face, and oral cavity, sores or discoloured tissue or as well as check for any signs and symptoms mentioned above. Once any of these symptoms look like cancerous tumours, he might further validate it by conducting an oral brush biopsy. This test is painless and involves taking a small sample of the tissue and analysing it for abnormal cells.  Based on the initial symptoms, the dentist may also recommend scalpel biopsy. Scalpel biopsy is more complicated than brush biopsy and is usually carried out under local anaesthesia.  

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Treatment Options for Oral Cancer

Based on the stage of oral cancer treatment alternatives vary. Like other cancers, the range of treatment options available includes radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. It is a streamlined procedure where the stage of oral cancer is first identified based on the symptoms shown and treatment plan is then suggested accordingly.

Also read about How does tobacco cause oral cancer?

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