Combat Oral Cancer and Do Not Miss These Six Signs!
Each year, the count of oral cancer cases worldwide is nearly 18.1 million new cases.
Wounds, redness, difficulty swallowing, and other symptoms.
Oral cancer: the areas most at risk
Oral cancer is one of the cancers of the upper aero-digestive tract. That is tongue, lips, palate, etc. Several kinds depend on where it grows.
The parts most at risk are:
The ventral surface of the tongue
The floor of the mouth
It affects more rarely:
It is essential to go to the dentist every year to get a clinical exam of the mouth and look for any suspicious lesions, lumps, or glands.
What are the causes of oral cancer?
Some of the things that increase the risk of developing oral cancer include:
• Smoking or using tobacco in any other way, such as chewing tobacco,
• Alcohol consumption,
• Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection: HPV is the virus that causes genital warts.
Who is affected by oral cancer?
It is the 6th most common cancer in the world.
On average, more than 66% of cases develop in adults over 55 years old. Only 12.5% occurs in people under the age of 50.
Men are more likely to get oral cancer than women. That could be because men tend to drink and smoke more than women.
It can develop in young adults. Researchers think there is a link between HPV infection and most oral cancers that occur in young people.
Treatments for oral cancer
There are three main treatment options, including:
Surgery: to remove cancer cells, as well as a small part of the surrounding tissue or normal cells to ensure complete removal of cancer,
Radiotherapy: which consists of directing beams of radiation at cancer cells,
Chemotherapy: Using strong drugs to kill cancer cells.
Doctors often use these treatments in combination. For example, radiation therapy could follow surgery to prevent cancer from coming back.
In addition to trying to cure oral cancer, treatment will focus on preserving functions of the mouth, such as breathing, speaking, and eating. Maintaining the appearance of the mouth will also be a priority.
Prevention of oral cancer
The three most effective ways to prevent it or keep it from coming back after successful treatment are:
• Do not smoke or use tobacco in any other way.
• Make sure that you do not drink more than the recommended weekly limit for alcohol.
• Eat a healthy and balanced diet, including fresh vegetables (especially tomatoes), citrus fruits, olive oil, and fish.
It is also a must that you have regular dental check-ups. Your dentist can often spot the early stages of oral cancer.
Here are the signs that prompt you to examine your oral health
A wound that does not heal
Oral cancer usually develops in the lining of the inside of the mouth, known as a “carcinoma.”
It often starts with the appearance of a sore, swelling, or persistent irritation in the mouth. The most common form is ulceration surrounded by small adenoids, and it is not painful.
Note: you must see your dentist if any sore in the mouth has not healed over two weeks.
A Rough White Patch
The term “leukoplakia” relates to several types of white lesions. Often, these white patches develop on the lower lip, gum tissue, or jugular lining, and they are benign.
However, some are likely to become cancerous, especially on the tongue, palate, or between the dental arch (lower teeth) and the tongue.
In this case, the appearance is a rough-textured white patch that, as it evolves, becomes thick, cracked, and warty.
A Red Patch That Remains for More Than Two Weeks
Any isolated red plaque persisting for more than two weeks in the mouth and without pain should prompt the patient to consult a doctor or a dental surgeon.
Most often, this is mild irritation. But it happens that this type of lesion hides an invasive carcinoma or blood cancers such as leukemia.
It mainly develops on the palate, gum tissue, tongue, and floor of the mouth.
Swallowing problems are so-called “functional” problems. When they are associated with cancer, they reflect an already very advanced stage.
It is the development of the tumor mass that causes them. Once there is a diagnosis of cancer, there is a treatment in place.
It not only allows the tumor mass to no longer exist or grow, it even helps to decline it.
When a tumor grows in the mouth, it can damage first swallowing and then breathing. That is a so-called “functional” discomfort.
As the tumor evolves, it increases in size and causes an obstacle to the passage of inspired air and shortness of breath in the patient.
This discomfort appears at a very advanced stage of cancer. Usually, the person already knows they have a tumor.
Toothache That Lasts
Early cancer rarely causes painful symptoms. Usually, the pain is mild or moderate.
Dental pain that lasts more than two weeks has a link to the mobility of the teeth close to the tumor that extended to the supporting bone of the teeth.
This pain is all the more suspicious when it is associated with other signs.
Although the pain could be due to a tooth that needs a root canal treatment or extraction, it is best to see a dentist when your toothache lasts that period.
Pain after brushing your teeth:
When the toothbrush passes over the area where the tumor is, the patient may experience pain. For there to be a real carcinogenic risk, there must be other symptoms like a persistent sore.
Do not panic! Bleeding after brushing your teeth doesn’t mean oral cancer.
Mostly, this means a gum disease that you can prevent by getting professional teeth cleaning service.
Take care of all your health especially your mouth. You do not want to lose your smile, do you?
Author: Dr. Nabil Mockbil from Swedish Dental Clinic in Dubai Marina