WHAT IS ORAL CANCER
Cancer is a condition in which there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in specific part of the body. Oral cancer is a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away. It can develop in any part of the oral cavity, this includes
Hard and soft palate
Overview of oral cavity
Oral cavity represents the first part of the digestive tube. Its chief purpose is to serve as the entrance of the alimentary tract and also to initiate the digestive process by salivation .It also serves as a secondary respiratory channel, which is a site of sound modification for the production of speech.
Oral cavity includes the teeth, gums, the soft and hard palates, tongue, tonsils, and salivary glands. These oral structures help a person to eat, drink, speak & breathe
RISK FACTORS FOR ORAL CANCER
Biggest risk factor for oral cancer in the use of tobacco, this includes cigarettes smoking, cigars, pipes, or chewing tobacco. People consuming a large amounts of alcohol and tobacco, specifically when both products are used on a regular basis, are at a greater risk. Other risk factors for oral cancer includes:
HPV infection (a sexually transmitted virus)
Chronic facial sun exposure
Previous diagnosis of oral cancer
Family history of oral or other type of cancer
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Symptoms of oral cancer are very similar to other types of non-threatening oral problems. Oral cancer can appear in different forms and can affect all parts of the mouth, tongue and lips.
Non-healing sore on the lip or mouth
Bleeding from mouth
Numbness in the lower lip , face , neck or chin
Pain in face ,mouth, neck
White or red patches
Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
Chronic sore throat
Trouble wearing denture
Dramatic weight loss
Diagnosis will be based on the following
If you notice any of the above changes, please talk to a Doctor
Oral Cancer Screening Steps
Staging is the process of finding the location & extent of the cancer, such as how large it is, if or where it has spread & whether it is affecting the other parts of the body. Knowing the stage of the cancer is important as this will help the doctor by:
Understand the severity of the cancer and the survival chances.
Plan the best treatment option accordingly.
Identify clinical trials that may be treatment the options for the patients.
TNM (Tumor, Nodes, and Metastasized) staging system is the most preferred cancer staging system in use. Others systems are more specific to a particular type of cancer. Staging systems include information about:
Location of the tumor
Cell type (such as, adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma)
Spread to nearby lymph nodes
Spread to different parts of the body
Tumor grade, which refers as to how abnormal the cancer cells look and how likely the tumor is to grow and spread
In situ: Presence of abnormal cells, which have not spread.
Localized: Cancer is limited to its origin place.
Regional: Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, tissues, or organs.
Distant: Cancer has spread to distant parts of the body.
Treatment options & prognosis of cancer will depend on:
Stage of the cancer
Whether the cancer has just been diagnosed or has recurred (come back)
Patient has any other health problems
Expected side effects of the treatment plan
After a definitive diagnosis has been made then the treatment will begin
Treatment of oral cancer is a multidisciplinary approach which requires
Rehabilitation & restorative specialist
The curative treatment modalities are a combination of surgery & radiation, chemotherapy is also done to decrease the chances of metastasis.
Cancers which are small and are localized are managed by the following methods
Surgical removal of tumor : Tumor is removed and healthy tissue is left behind
Surgery when it is spread to the neck: Radical neck dissection is performed in this we remove tumor and additional normal tissue 2 cm around tumor and lymph nodes are also removed
Surgery for mouth reconstruction : When surgery greatly changes appearance of face or patient is not able to talk or eat then surgeons transplant grafts of skin ,muscle or bone
It involves use of high energy x-ray beam or particles to destroy cancer cells. Oral cancers are extremely sensitive to radiotherapy. It involves
External beam radiation
Individuals in early stage of mouth cancer may have radiation therapy as the only treatment.
Side effects include:
It is done in combination with radiotherapy. Chemotherapy includes powerful medicines that will destroy the cancer cells by damaging its DNA.
Side effects include:
Weakened immune system
As soon as treatment is over side effects gets vanished away. Sometimes targeted drug therapy is used in combination with radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Oral Cancer Treatment in India
The Indian oncology hospitals and doctors are at par with the international medical and healthcare standards. On one hand, the best oncologists in India are skilled, experienced, and eminent and on the other, the best cancer hospitals in India are equipped with modern infrastructure, advanced medical technologies, and state-of-the-art facilities delivering the most accurate treatment for fast recovery of the patient.
Oral Cancer surgical treatment costs USD 3200 in India which is much less than what the other countries charge. Click the header to know the cost of oral cancer treatment in detail.
The complications of oral cancer are
Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia)-patients with oral cancer, especially those who have undergone surgery may find that it has affected their tongue, mouth, or throat.
Difficulty to speak-patient is unable to utter specific sounds or series of sounds properly.
Depression-patient becomes irritable, frustrated, anxious, and depressed.
Prevention plan which may reduce the risk of oral cancer are
Quit tobacco(smoking, chewing and snorting)
Say no to alcohol
Having a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish oil, olive oil
Cut down on all junk foods, saturated fats and processed meats
Avoid excessive sun exposure to the lips
Cut down on caffeine intake
PROGNOSIS & SURVIVAL
Survival rate indicates the percentage of patients who live a specific number of years after being diagnosed with the cancer.
Overall, 60% of people suffering with oral cancer survive for 5 years.
Survival rates for oral cancer is significantly lower in black men and women.
Diagnosing oral cancer at an early stage significantly increases 5 year survival rates.
> How does smoking affects oral cancer?
Tobacco usage is the most important risk factor for oral cancer. People who smoke or chew tobacco, dip snuff or smoke pipes have a much higher chance of getting cancer.
> Is oral cancer preventable?
It can be prevented by having a controlled intake of tobacco & alcohol.
> Should everyone go for a second opinion for a confirm diagnosis of oral cancer?
Many people with cancer get a second opinion from another doctor. The reasons for this are
Not feeling comfortable with the treatment decision
Being diagnosed with a rare type of cancer
Having several treatment options
Not being able to see a cancer expert
> What is Leukoplakia?
Any white patch in the mouth which is a pre - malignant condition.
> How can an oral cancer be detected in its early stages?
Oral cancer can often be marked in its early stages by the dentist during a full mouth examination. If detected early, then the prognosis can be good.