The formation of cancerous cells in and around the mouth is called oral cancer. Oral cancer is formed in different parts of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums, inner lining of the cheek, floor of the mouth, and the soft or hard palate. There are several risk factors associated with oral cancer. Tobacco is the main cause of this disease. A major factor is either smoking or chewing tobacco, and excessive alcohol consumption.
Other factors to know about oral cancer include the following:
1. Risk factors of oral cancer
There are several risk factors associated with oral cancer and some of them are
If one of your ancestors suffered or is suffering from oral cancer you are at a higher risk too.
Men are more prone to oral cancer when compared to women.
- Lack of nutrition
Imbalanced diet with poor nutrition can lead to oral cancer
- Weak immune system
Individuals suffering from weak immunity or immune deficiency syndrome are more prone to oral cancer.
- Prior history of oral cancer
If an individual has had a previous history of oral cancer, there are more chances for it to reoccur.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) Infection
Individuals suffering from Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection are more prone to oral cancer.
2. Diagnosis of oral cancer
The diagnosis of the disease helps in treatment methods for oral cancer. When individuals complain about symptoms of oral cancer, the dentist or a doctor will perform a few steps to diagnose oral cancer. They will first take a closer look into the mouth looking for lumps or other signs of infection. Once the symptoms are determined, individuals are referred to an ENT specialist.
Here are a few diagnostic methods for oral cancer:
If the tumor is visible the doctor performs a brush biopsy or a tissue biopsy. A brush biopsy is a painless procedure done to collect tumor cells by brushing them on to a slide. Tissue biopsy is done to remove a piece of infected tissue for microscopic examination.
An oral X-ray is taken to examine oral features along with the chest and lungs to check for infestation of cancer cells.
- CT Scan
A set of magnetic rays are passed through the body while the patient lies on a table to get a detailed picture of organs inside the body. This helps in revealing the presence of the tumor.
- PET Scan
This procedure is done to find if cancer has spread to lymph nodes.
- MRI Scan
An MRI scan is done to get accurate pictures of the infected area.
A pipe carrying a camera on the other end is inserted through the nasal passage to check for the presence of a tumor.
3. Treatment methods for oral cancer
The various treatment methods for oral cancer depend on the stage of cancer. Some of them are
This treatment method for oral cancer involves the removal of the tumor along with some surrounding healthy tissues.
- Radiation therapy
In this procedure, the infected area is treated with radiation beams to eradicate cancer cells.
Medications are administered orally or through IV to kill cancer cells.
- Targeted therapy
Medications are targeted to attack a particular protein in cancer cells to stop their growth.