There are a lot of types of cancer and people are familiar with most of them. Oral cancer is one of the types and it is considered to be not that common but it is not uncommon either. People need to know that this type of cancer is considered to be a subtype of head and neck cancer. The oral cavity is the place where the cancerous tissue will grow. People should also know that there are a few oral cancer types but the one called squamous cell carcinoma is the most common as it occurs in 90% of all cases. The tongue is the most common place where the cancer will occur but it can also appear on the floor of the mouth, cheek lining, gums, lips and palate.
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
There are several signs which are connected to oral cancer. Even though these symptoms may start as skin lesions, lumps or ulcers, people need to pay a lot more attention to them if they do not go away after a period of two weeks. It is important to look out for them if these appear on the tongue, lip or some other mouth area. People should also go to the doctor’s if the ulcers are small, pale colored or even discolored, cause no pain at first and provide a burning sensation. If they feel pain the tumor has advanced. Another symptom in the early stages is a white patch or a red patch on the soft tissue of the mouth.
Apart from these signs which occur most often, people should look out for other signs such as various problems with the tongue, certain problems when a person swallows, mouth sores and pain and paraesthesia, which are all considered to be the late signs of oral cancer.
Causes and Risk Factors of Oral Cancer
People should know that the doctors are still unsure of the actual cause of oral cancer. What is known is that the oncogenes become active when the mutation of the DNA occurs. However, in almost all cases of oral cancer, the treatment plan is well known and it includes surgery and radiation. Radiation can be either with or without chemotherapy. Almost every person is aware that there are certain risk factors which increase the chance of developing oral cancer and people should do everything they can in order to reduce these risk factors.
Oral cancer occurs most often in India due to the fact that people chew betel, paan and Areca, which are known to be really strong risk factors. However, lots of people in India refuse to stop doing it as it is a part of their culture. This is why oral cancer represents 40% of all cancer types in India. On the other hand, people should be aware that oral cancer represents only 4% of all cancer types in Britain. Tobacco is another pretty strong risk factor of oral cancer and it does not matter how people use it. According to the data, 75% of all oral cancer cases occurred due to tobacco. It is the smoke and heat that comes from cigarettes, cigars and pipes that irritates the mucus membranes of the mouth. A lot of people are not aware of the fact that tobacco contains more than 60 known carcinogens. Apart from tobacco, alcohol is another very strong risk factor of oral cancer. The worst case is when a person is consuming both tobacco and alcohol in large doses. An interesting thing is that even alcohol-containing mouth washes are known to be the risk factors of oral cancer. However, there were some studies which proved that there is no connection between oral cancer and the use of alcohol-based mouth washes. The topic is still not closed.
A lot of people are not aware that if they are infected with human papillomavirus type 16, they have increased the chance of developing oral cancer.
Diagnosis and Prognosis of Oral Cancer
A person can only feel but not see in all cases that he or she is suffering from lesion of the lip, mouth or tongue. The dentist or a health care provider will be able to see it more clearly. These lesions usually become an ulcer and start to bleed as the tumor advances. After that, a person will not be able to speak or swallow normally and in many cases there is a need for a feeding tube. The dentist will be able to diagnose this problem with the help of various screening devices. However, biopsy is the only way oral cancer can be diagnosed. Prognosis of oral cancer is not that good but the stage at which it was discovered is very important. Disfigurement of the face, head and neck after the surgery is possible. Certain complications like dry mouth and problems with swallowing are possible when the patient undergoes radiation therapy. Spread of the cancer is possible as well and severe weight loss occurs in almost all cases. Relevant statistical data
According to the data, men are affected a lot more than women by oral cancer. In the year of 2011, almost 37,000 people in the USA will be diagnosed with oral cancer and 66% of them will already suffer from stages three or four of oral cancer. According to the experts, 8,000 people will die due to oral cancer.