Oral Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Diet, Treatment and Surgical Procedures

Mouth Cancer Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Oral Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Diet, Treatment and Surgical Procedures
Image Source - By Bionerd (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Oral cancer or mouth cancer is a type of cancer that consists of tissue growth surrounding the oral cavity. Although most oral cancers originate in tissues that line the tongue, it can also occur on the gums, cheek lining, floor of the mouth, roof of the mouth, and throat. This article provides a detailed perspective on causes, symptoms, diet, treatment and surgical procedures associated with oral cancer.

Cancer is a termed as the damage and invasion of surrounding tissue caused by the growth of cells that is uncontrollable. Oral cancer relates to any form of cancerous tissue growth that takes place in the oral cavity. This type of cancer metastasizes through the lymphatic system. The common forms of mouth cancer consist of tissue growth surrounding the tongue or lips. The cancerous sores may also occur on the cheek lining, gums, soft and hard palate, floor of the mouth and pharynx.

When observed under a microscope most oral cancers look similar and are categorized as Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). All forms of oral cancer have to be diagnosed and at an early stage.

Diagnosis and treatment at an early stage ensures that the cancer doesn’t spread further and gives the individual a 90% chance of survival. Most oral cancers are malignant and spread at a rapid pace. If oral cancer is detected at a late stage the treatment administered can prove ineffective and the chances of survival very less. The percentage of mouth cancer cases among women is lower compared to men.

Causes of Oral Cancer

The American Society states that men stand a greater chance of developing this type of cancer than women. Although there is no specific cause that determines the development of oral cancer, there are several factors that influence the development of mouth cancer. The use of tobacco in its various forms is responsible for 75% of the oral cancer cases around the world. In a few Asian cultures where chewing betel nut, paan, and snuff, are prevalent, the risk of developing oral cancer is high. Individuals that are habituated to heavy smoking and drinking are at high risk of developing oral cancer. Studies reveal that frequent use of mouthwash is linked as a risk agent that contributes in the development of oral cancer. Constant exposure to the sun can also lead to development of lip cancer.

Detection and diagnosis is required at an early stage as oral cancer spreads fast. Once cancer has been diagnosed treatment should start immediately in order to prevent it from spreading further. Although the number of mouth cancer cases is high among men above 45, individuals at any age can develop oral cancer. The only way to determine the presence of cancerous cells is through tissue biopsy and microscopic evaluation. The evaluation through these methods determines the presence or lack of cancerous growth or tissue.

Symptoms of Mouth Cancer

Although the signs and symptoms of different forms of mouth cancer are similar, they may vary among individuals. Early signs of developing oral cancer may be noticed in the form of red or white patches that appear on tissues of the mouth. The sores and lumps that appear in the mouth are colorless, pale or dark in color. The occurrences appear in the form of lumps, sores, ulcers, and lesions. If the occurrences of sores or ulcers persist for two weeks and do not heal even with medicine it is recommended that you get yourself examined by a dentist or health care provider. Dentists are able to detect oral cancer in its different forms with the help of variety of screening devices.

The size of the lumps or sores is often small and painless in the initial stages but can get excruciatingly painful as the cancer develops. The sores and lumps can appear and disappear at regular intervals. Sometimes sores are accompanied by sudden bleeding. Individuals may experience difficulty in exercising the jaw while chewing and speaking. Some individuals may experience a great deal of pain while swallowing. Chronic sore throats, hoarseness, and change in voice may also occur. Loss of feeling or numbness accompanied by sudden bouts of pain in areas near the palate or cheek lining may occur. Individuals may also experience a burning sensation on the tongue.

Diet for Oral Cancer

During cancer treatment the body has to work extra hard attending to varied scenarios related to damage and repair of cells. In such times, the body requires a high amount of nutrients to for smooth functionality of body functions. Proper nutrients assist in lessening the side effects that arise from treatment. Herbal remedies can be taken in consultation with your doctor. Including cancer fighting foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy green veggies, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, seaweed, avocado, flaxseeds, cruciferous veggies, garlic, grapefruit, lemon, papaya, soy, grapes, oranges, green tea, and herbs such as thyme, basil, mint, and turmeric can prevent intensification of cancer.

Also include cereals, whole grain breads, and portions of lean meat such as fish, chicken or turkey along with low fat dairy products. Research reveals cancer patients that consume food sources rich in beta-carotene and other antioxidant foods while undergoing chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation live longer with disease-free intervals. Individuals that find it difficult to swallow food can be given stews, soups or foods mixed in a blender. Your doctor in consultation with a dietician/nutritionist will recommend the required food source.

Management, Treatment and Surgical Procedures in different types of Oral Cancer

The survival rate of oral cancer depends on the stage of diagnosis of the cancer. Proper diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation are essential to ensure the survival of an individual. The presence of precancerous and cancerous cells can only be determined through biopsy and microscopic evaluation of cells. If a biopsy reveals the presence of cancer, the doctor determines the stage of the disease through a number of lab tests and endoscopy. To determine the spread of cancer a number of imaging tests are performed. Healthcare specialists in the field of radiation therapy and chemotherapy are recommended by doctors when required.

Depending on the findings, surgical excision is recommended if the tumor is small. The surgical procedure is likely to help the functionality of the individual. Radiation therapy is administered if a tumor cannot be operated upon. CCPDMA and Radical neck dissection are performed along with radiation therapy if tumors are unable to be operated upon. Chemotherapy along with radiation therapy is administered to reduce pain and sustain the life of a patient. Surgeries associated with different types of mouth cancer are…

  • Maxillectomy - Procedure used to eradicate/remove all or part of maxilla bone
  • Mandibulectomy - Procedure used to eradicate /remove all or part jawbone or mandible.
  • Glossectomy - Procedure for removal of tongue in total, hemi or partial.
  • CCPDMA of Mohs Surgery - Microscopically controlled surgery used for skin cancer and mouth cancer.
  • Radical neck dissection - Procedure involves removal of all lymph nodes associated with one side of the neck. Also includes removal of internal jugular vein (IJV) spinal accessory nerve (SAN) and sternocleidomasloid muscle (SCM).
  • Combinational Procedures - A combination of surgeries done together. For e.g. a glossectomy procedure and laryngectomy procedure done together.

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