Jaw Cancer is a malignant disease which features in abnormal and uncontrollable growth of jaw tissue. The disease is rather complex and has to be treated aggressively. The prognosis depends on the stage of the disease. However as in the other malignant diseases patient with jaw cancer tends to come to doctor when the disease has progressed.
Majority of oral cancers are connected with tobacco consumption and chewing. Smoking cigarettes and heavy drinking may lead to oral cancers as well. Still in case of jaw cancer the thing is that it originates from the jaw bone hence does not stand in any kind of connection with the previously mentioned risk factors. So tumors which originate from the jaw bones are actually sarcomas.
The pain may be the only symptoms in the very beginning. The cause of the pain is actually a destruction of the bone by rapid growth of the tumor. The pain occurs even before any other significant signs of the disease. It may even occur in early stages and sometimes pain killers may reduce the pain intensity stealing the precious time of patient and postponing the visit to the doctor.
Apart from pain one may palpate or even notice a lump in the jaw. This lump is firm and does not move. It is fixed to the jaw structures. Generally lumps are painless when touched. Additionally if the tumor is located near the teeth its growth may lead to loss of teeth. This is patognomonic for jaw cancer. What is more patient may complain about tingling sensations in the jaw which occurs especially during sleep.
The tumor may spread rapidly affecting the muscles that are in charge with opening of the jaw. If these muscles get affected one may not be able to open his/ her mouth. This will lead to further problems regarding chewing and swallowing of the food.
The worst thing that can happen is spread of the cancer to local lymph nodes and surrounding area. Enlargement of neck lymph nodes most definitely points to the spread of the disease. Metastases are poor prognostic sign. Having metastases in local lymph nodes is even better than if one present the symptoms of further metastases such as those in lungs, liver or even brain. In that case the disease soon leads to lethal outcome.
So if one feels pain in the jaw it is best to consult his or her dentist and if dentist suspects on something malignant he or she will forward the patient to specialist who will then establish the final diagnosis and start the treatment. Starting point in this type of tumor is simple X ray of the jaw. It will present destruction of the bone or a newly formed mass within the bone.