Oral Cancer – Types – Risk Factors – Symptoms – Diagnosis – Stages – Treatment

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The cancer that develops in the tissue of mouth or throat is known as oral cancer and belongs to head and neck cancer group. The cancer usually occurs in people over the age group of 40 and there are thousands of people suffering from oral cancer every year. The survival and treatment is based on the diagnosis and the stage of detection.

Oral Cancer types
1. Tongue Cancer
2. Lips Cancer
3. Gums Cancer
4. The floor of the mouth
5. The inner lining of the cheek
6. Hard and Soft palate

Risk Factors
Oral cancer is most common in people chewing tobacco in different forms like pipes, a cigar as well as in people who consume alcohol. Male are twice at risk of oral cancer compared to women. Besides, the following risk factors can cause cancers as well.
• The family history of oral or any other cancer
• Poor Nutrition
• Weak immune system
• Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
• Chronic facial sun exposure

Oral Cancer

• A lump growth anywhere inside the mouth
• Bleeding from the mouth
• Trouble swallowing or wearing dentures
• Loose teeth
• A lip or mouth sore that does not heal
• A sore throat
• Red or white patches on lips or inside the mouth
• Jaw or tongue pain or stiffness

The diagnosis can be done using either X-ray, CT Scan or an MRI scan. MRI’s can show highly accurate results on cancer of neck and head with the stage of it while PET scan can be done in order to check whether the cancer is reached to the other organs or lymph nodes. X-ray can help determine whether cancer has spread to chest, lungs or jaw. CT scan is also used to diagnose cancers in organs like lungs, neck, mouth, and throat.

There are four stages through which cancer progresses and the survival rate also varies based on the stage of detection of the cancer
Stage 1 – The tumor at this stage is around 2 cm or even smaller and the cancer is not yet spread to the lymph nodes. Survival rate at this stage is quite high
Stage 2 – The tumor is over 2 cm but under 4 cm in size and cancer hasn’t spread to the nodes. The survival rate is good if the cancer is detected at this stage
Stage 3 – This is a bit advanced stage where the tumor is over 4 cm and it hasn’t spread to the lymph node or is of any size and has spread to one of the lymph nodes. The survival rate is reduced at this stage
Stage 4 – This is the final stage and cancer has a tumor of any size that has spread to other lymph nodes as well as other parts of the body.

The survival rate for over 60% of people with oral cancer is said to be up to five years or more. The earlier the diagnosis happens, the more is the rate of survival and hence it is the most for localized cancer (83%), 64% for cancer that has spread to lymph nodes and 38% for last stage cancer.

The treatment of oral cancer depends on the diagnosis and the type, location, and stage of cancer.
The treatment includes –
Surgery – The initial treatment involves removal of the cancerous tumor and lymph nodes. If required some other tissues might be removed from the neck and mouth.
Chemotherapy – This therapy involves removal of the cancerous cells using drugs. The therapy is carried out on an outpatient basis, wherein the medicine is provided orally or via (IV).
Radiation Therapy – The therapy is a process of two to eight weeks wherein the doctor projects radiation beams at the tumor once or twice a day. For advanced stage cancers, a mix of chemotherapy and radiation therapy is carried out.
Targeted Therapy – Targeted therapy is another form of therapy which works well will containing the growth of cancer cells. The drug binds with specific proteins on cancer cells in order to interfere with their growth.

Cancer treatment can take a toll on your diet making it difficult to eat and swallow. Hence, it is important that you discuss your nutrition with the doctor which provides you with all the need nutrients and is even painless for you to an extent.

Vydehi is one of the best cancer hospital in Bangalore, recently vims started VOICE – Vydehi Oncology Institute and Center of Excellence.