Cancer itself is a term that frightens all of us the most. It is usually a sore or growth of cells that invade and cause damage to the surrounding tissues, which doesn’t go away without proper treatment. Cancer that occurs in the mouth or on the exterior lip of the mouth is called Oral Cancer. It is one of the many types of cancers that comes under the head and neck cancer category. Mouth cancer, throat cancer, tonsil cancer, and tongue cancer are common names used instead of oral cancer. Recent studies indicate that the average age of the disease diagnosis is 62, and, two thirds with the disease are above 55 years.
How It Occurs: Risk Factors of Oral Cancer
Though the exact reason for oral cancer is yet unknown, studies indicate that certain lifestyles put you at a higher risk of getting this disease. The common trend shows that men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer as compared to women.
Risk Factors That Cause Oral Cancer Include:
∙ Usage of tobacco (either smoking or chewing) puts you at a higher risk of developing oral cancer. In fact, studies show that around 85 percent of oral cancer patients consumed tobacco.
∙ Heavy alcohol consumption also increases one’s chance of developing oral cancer. The person is at a much higher risk when using both tobacco and alcohol.
∙ High exposure to sunlight (especially at a younger age) can cause cancer on the lips.
∙ Family history of cancer can cause genetic syndromes such as Fanconi anemia and Dyskeratosis congenital, which carries a high risk of oral cancer.
∙ Many cases have come up recently which indicate that exposure to Human Papilloma Virus version 16 (HPV-16 virus), that is usually transmitted through sex, can cause oral cancer.
∙ Oral cancer can also be caused by an unhealthy diet that lacks fruits and vegetables.
∙ At the same time, a very small percentage (under 10%) of people gets OC from unidentified causes too.
Oral Cancer Symptoms
In the last 5 years, the oral cancer survival rate was 65%. Studies prove that the survival rate jumps to an amazing 84% when the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage. So, it is important to stay alert and get proper medical treatment once you detect any symptoms of oral cancer.
If you find any sore, swelling, or patch anywhere in and around your mouth that bleeds continuously or doesn’t heal for two weeks, it is best to get proper medical attention. A growth of red or white patches in the mouth or lips and the feeling of something being stuck in the throat are also classic symptoms. Consult a doctor if there is any pain, loss of feeling, numbness or tenderness anywhere in the mouth, face or neck. Difficulty in chewing, swallowing or speaking, along with the trouble in moving the jaw can be the symptoms of oral cancer. Ear or tongue pain and unexplained weight loss also should not be ignored.
Diagnosis and Oral Cancer Treatment
If any of the above-mentioned symptoms are detected, the doctor will conduct some prescribed tests to diagnose the disease. It includes physical examinations and removal of the tissues for the tests like biopsy. Once cancer is diagnosed, tests will be conducted to establish the extent (stage) of cancer.
Oral cancer is treated just the way other cancers are treated. It starts with a surgery to remove the tumour, which is followed by a surgery to reconstruct the mouth, followed by radiation, and chemotherapy.
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