Oral cancer is not as common as breast or prostate cancer. This doesn’t mean that we have to breathe a sigh of relief. This kind of cancer can affect anyone regardless of age (except children), race, and gender. On that note, let’s talk some important things about this matter to further prevent it from happening to you.
The term oral refers to the different parts of an in the mouth. These include the lips, teeth, tongue, tonsils, gums, uvula, hard and soft palates, and salivary glands. Hence, oral cancer is the disease in the mouth.
Like how cancer is defined, oral cancer is the abnormal growth of cancerous cells in any part of the oral activity. It has specific causes and symptoms, which most are quite distinctive.
Causes and Risks
People who frequently smoke cigarette or tobacco are the most prone to get this cancer. Smoking is obviously a bad habit that can develop cancer in the mouth in the long run.
The drinking of alcohol is also a common cause of oral cancer. The ingredients of alcohol can harm not only the digestive system, but also the mouth and throat.
Another risk included on this list is when you are suffering from one of the three diseases: human papilloma virus infection or HPV, herpes simplex virus, and HIV/AIDS. You may or may not know you have an infection, oral cancer can likely occur.
Although rare, overexposure of the sun can affect lips. If an extreme case, this can lead to cancer.
Symptoms or Signs
Oral cancer has its own symptoms that are different than most cancers. These include white patches around the cheek lining and tongue. There’s also swelling and bleeding in the gums, cancer sore or other lesions in the mouth and on the lips. Teeth may also start to loose and lumps around the neck become enlarged.
Eating is affected when a person has this kind of cancer. It will be hard to chew and swallow foods.
The difficulty to breathe can happen also. This is most likely in severe cases, or when the cancer is at later stage (III or IV).
Screening and Treatment
Oral cancer should be easily diagnosed once one or more of the symptoms (as listed above) develop. A doctor is going to perform several tests and ask questions that help validate if the cancer is positive. Aside from medical history of the patient, biopsy of tissues from the mouth, and CT scans, PET scans, or MRI scans should be performed.
It’s important to get diagnosed properly to be given the right treatment. Once positive, the doctor is going to prescribe some medications, suggest surgery, and perform chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Take note that there are side effects of treatment of oral cancer. You may start feeling more tired and sleepy (fatigue). There’ll be frequent oral problems, such as sore throat, denture problems, and vomiting. Diarrhea may also happen during the course of therapy. Lastly, hair loss happens due to chemotherapy.
Oral cancer can be prevented if you avoid doing stuff that will most likely give you the disease. Having known the causes and risks, today is the best day to sat changing your lifestyle, diet, and habits.