Comprehensive Guide to Oral Cancer
Oral Cancer: Understanding its types, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment methods.
Oral cancer constitutes malignant growths in the oral cavity, frequently originating in the lower lip, oral mucosa, tonsils, or behind salivary glands. Most commonly, it targets the floor of the mouth and the tongue. These cancers primarily originate from the squamous cells of the mucosa lining the mouth, tongue, and lips.
Specialists in Otorhinolaryngology and Head-Neck surgery predominantly manage oral cancers, which are two times more prevalent in men compared to women. Regular visits to physicians and dentists are crucial to detect oral cancer at an early stage.
Preventive Measures for Oral Cancer:
- Refraining from cancer-inducing substances such as tobacco and alcohol.
- Regular medical and dental check-ups.
- Treatment of any teeth or dentures that could cause wounds in the mouth.
Risk Factors of Oral Cancer: While there's no clear scientific explanation why oral cancers are present in certain individuals with similar lifestyles and absent in others, it's evident that they're non-contagious. Yet, research points out several influencing factors.
Tobacco is the leading cause of nearly all oral cancers. Heavy, long-term users of tobacco and its products, especially those with alcohol habits, see their risk drastically increase. About 90% of oral cancers occur in tobacco users.
Alcohol consumption raises the risk proportionally with the amount consumed. Sun rays significantly contribute to lip cancers, particularly in smokers. A history of cancer in the family, poor nutrition, unhealthy living conditions, and existing health problems can elevate the risk. Chronic mouth sores caused by broken, sharp-edged prosthetics or teeth, especially in smokers, present a significant risk for oral cancers.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer: Oral cancer typically manifests as white, red, or red-white spots and sores in the mouth or on the lips. Persistent mouth and lip sores, thinning and erosion of the gums, recurring and bleeding sores, unexplained numbness or pain in the mouth and tongue, stubborn sores in the face and neck area that bleed easily, difficulty in chewing, swallowing, or moving the jaw, persistent hoarseness, unexplained tooth loss, and swelling in the neck and throat area can all be symptoms of oral cancer.
Diagnosis: Early diagnosis in oral cancer, as in all cancers, is critical for treatment. Regular check-ups with doctors and dentists are beneficial. If the physician observes a suspicious sore or swelling in the mouth, tongue, cheeks, gums, oral floor, or lips, they may request a biopsy.
Treatment: Chemotherapy, also known as medicinal cancer treatment, uses drugs to inhibit cancer cell growth. This treatment may have various side effects and is thus reserved for patients without liver and kidney dysfunctions.
Surgery involves removing the tumor and any nearby affected tissues, including lymph nodes. Depending on the patient's recovery, the medical team decides on subsequent radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Radiotherapy applies high-energy rays to the mouth and throat region to eliminate cancer cells and prevent the cancer's spread. The side effects of radiotherapy depend on the size and location of the tumor.
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