Oral cancer is a type of cancer which occurs anywhere in the mouth – in the lips, in the gums, in the top and lower portion of the mouth, inside the cheek, in the salivary glands, on the surface of the tongue and also the tonsils.

When left undetected and untreated, oral cancer can spread to other different parts of the mouth, then the neck and head, and eventually to other body parts. Oral cancers typically start in the cells that line the lips and the inner portion of the mouth – they are referred to as squamous cell carcinomas.

 

Signs and Symptoms

A patient doesn’t have any symptoms during the early stages of mouth cancer. Heavy drinkers and smokers should go for checkups at regular intervals to the dentist. Your dentist will be able to identify signs of mouth cancer.

Look out for these symptoms:

  • Mouth ulcers that don’t go away.
  • Patches on the side of the tongue or mouth, usually red in color.
  • Pain when swallowing.
  • Pain in jaw
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Loosening teeth without any reason
  • The mouth swells up and the swelling persists for over a week
  • Painful tongue

Treatment for Oral Cancer

Oral Surgery

The general treatment for patients with oral cancer is surgery for removing the tumor in the mouth. If the disease has spread to other body parts, the operation may be more extensive.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy rays to damage cancer cells and prevent them from growing. Radiation therapy is done only to the cells in the concerned area.

Chemotherapy

The use of drugs to kill the cancer cells is known as chemotherapy

Prevention

  • Avoid smoking because it increases the risk of developing oral cancer.
  • Taking alcohol may also cause oral cancer. Quitting may reduce the risk.
  • Excessive sun exposure may be a cause for oral cancer. Use sunscreen lip product.

To know more on how you can prevent oral cancer, go for an oral cancer exam from your trusted dentist.