“Cancer” – the word itself scares everyone. That too studies say that oral cancer has been increasing day by day largely because of our unhealthy lifestyle. Beyond everything, cancer is something that needs to be faced boldly by the patient overcoming all the fear. Continue with us to know everything about oral cancer – its causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer, can occur anywhere in the mouth, or in the tongue, lips, inner cheek, gums, tonsils or even in the salivary glands. It is said that oral cancer can be treated if it is diagnosed at an early stage or it may leave your life at risk if it is left untreated.
What causes oral cancer?
Generally, a cell’s DNA instructs the cell to function properly. Excess consumption of the following will damage the DNA which leads to cancer.
Tobacco and alcohol
Chewing or inhaling much of tobacco and alcohol will increase your risk factors in developing cancer.
Our body is made up of what we eat. An unbalanced diet always leads to many health problems which include mouth cancer too. Oral hygiene is pretty much important for your dental health if your dental health gets disturbed then the risk of other health issues will be high.
Human Papilloma Virus
Human papillomavirus attacks the skin mostly in your mouth, cervix, anus, and throat. This virus gets spread when you have any physical or sexual contact with the one who is already affected by the HPV virus.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
The following symptoms can be associated with any health issue but still, it is important to visit the dentist or a physician nearby if you have any of the below-mentioned symptoms.
- Sore or sometimes lump will be formed on the lip, mouth or in the throat.
- Excess bleeding in your mouth for an unknown reason.
- Pain or numbness in your mouth.
- Unable to chew your food or swallow your food.
- You might undergo heavy pain whenever you chew or swallow something.
- Rapid weight loss for no reason.
- Sudden change in your voice.
- Unbearable pain in your ears.
Stages of Cancer
Cancer can be cured easily if it is treated at the earlier stage itself. The stages of cancer are determined by the size of the tumor cells and how much it has affected the nearby tissues.
Early Stage Cancer (Stage 1 or 2)
When the cancer is in stage 1 or stage 2, the size of the tumor will be smaller than the walnuts and there are no chances for the cancer cells to be found in the lymph nodes.
Advanced Cancer (Stage 3 or 4)
When the early stage cancer is unnoticed and left untreated, then your life is at high risk. In stage 3 and stage 4, the tumor size will be as large as a lemon and the cancer cells will start to spread over the lymph nodes and also spreads over other parts of the body.
So, it is always better to consult a dentist or a general physician whenever you notice the symptoms which have been discussed above earlier in this blog. As said, prevention is always better than cure.
When your dentist suspects cancer because of the white layer formed inside the mouth, a small portion of your tissue is sent to the laboratory for biopsy(sample of cells will be tested). The cells will be examined thoroughly to find whether there are any cancer cells associated with your tissues.
Once after the results, if mouth cancer is diagnosed, the next step of the doctor is to find out the stage of cancer. Endoscopy will be done, where a camera fixed light scope will be inserted into the patient’s throat to find out the extent of the cancer cells.
X-ray, CT scan, MRI scan will help you to determine the level of cancer and whether the cancer cells have been spread over other parts of the body.
If mouth cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, then it requires only a small surgery that treats cancer completely that it doesn’t come back. Treatment depends on the cancer stage, location of cancer and the health condition of the patient.
Before visiting your physician prepare a set of questions that you need to ask with the doctor. Get a clear knowledge from your doctor about what is going to be done for you.
The tissues that are affected by the cancer cells will be removed through surgery. If cancer gets complicated with you, then a part of your mouthline will be removed through surgery which will be replaced after using the skin that is taken somewhere else from your body.
If your tongue gets affected, a part of it will be removed. If cancer gets deep into your jawbone, there is no other way rather than removing the infected part of your jawbone.
We must definitely thank the technologies which help us a lot in enhancing our health. 3D printing technology is one complex technique used, which imitates the bone that is removed during surgery.
Radiation kills cancer cells. Hence, after surgery, even cancer patients are advised to undergo radiotherapy to prevent themselves from any new or returning cancer cells. Radiotherapy treatment is given for about 6 weeks continuously depending on the size of the cancer cells.
Though this treatment kills the cancer cells, this also has many side effects like,
- Mouth ulcers
- Dry mouth
- Loss of taste
- Feeling sick
- Bad breath
These are treated by your physician or caretaker and mostly will be cured once the treatment is completed fully.
Chemotherapy is given when cancer has spread widely all over or if your physician feels that cancer cells are returning back. Chemotherapy treatment uses high doses of drug which are injected into your blood. The patients will receive chemotherapy for once in a week. This treatment weakens the cancer cells, kills it and also prevents from occurring more in the future. As these drugs are of high doses, they damage the healthy cells too thereby causing some side effects like,
- Hair loss
- Mouth ulcers
- Feeling sick
- Kidney problems
- Weakens the immune system
The treatments mentioned above kill the cancer cells and increases the survival rate of the patients. Once after completing all the treatments, the patient needs to go for medication for years to stay healthy and to prevent themselves from future risks of returning cancer cells. 4 out of 5 patients survive more than 10 years after undergoing the treatment and medications properly.
1) Avoid usage of tobacco and alcohol completely
Excess usage of tobacco and alcohol will increase your complications towards cancer. It is proved that people who are affected by mouth cancer are more likely to use tobacco or alcohol or even both in excess amount.
2) Do Exercise
Try exercising for about 30 minutes a day such as walking, stair climbing, moving the operated parts gently. Consult your dentist or a physiotherapist for guidance.
3) Relax yourself
Don’t stress yourself more. Eat healthily and relax by doing the things which make you feel light.
Control and Support
Stay strong and healthy in order to overcome your fear and get rid of your cancer. That’s why it is advised to visit some best dentist when you find any pain or unusual symptoms in your teeth or mouth. Self- support, family support and your doctor’s guidance will help you to get through your disease and proper oral hygiene will prevent you from future complications.
Stay positive and stay healthy.