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Oral Cancer Treatment in India

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

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  • Lips                                                                                                                         

  • Tongue

  • Cheeks

  • Gums

  • Hard and soft palate

  • Throat

  • Pharynx


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

Risk Factors for Oral 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

  • Loose teeth

  • Difficulty in chewing or swallowing

  • Hoarseness

  • Chronic sore throat

  • Trouble wearing denture

  • Ear ache

  • Dramatic weight loss


DIAGNOSIS


Diagnosis will be based on the following

If you notice any of the above changes, please talk to a Doctor

 

Oral Cancer Screening Steps

Oral Cancer Screening Steps


STAGING

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.

STAGING SYSTEM


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)

  • Tumor size

  • 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

Treatment options & prognosis of cancer will depend on:

  • Stage of the cancer

  • Patient’s age

  • 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

  • Surgeon

  • Oncologist

  • Dentist

  • Nutritionist

  • Rehabilitation & restorative specialist

 

The curative treatment modalities are a combination of surgery & radiation, chemotherapy is also done to decrease the chances of metastasis.

 

Surgery

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

 

Radiation


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

  • Brachytherapy

Individuals in early stage of mouth cancer may have radiation therapy as the only treatment.

Side effects include:

  • Tooth decay

  • Mouth sores

  • Bleeding gums

  • Jaw stiffness

  • Fatigue

  • Skin reactions

 

Chemotherapy


It is done in combination with radiotherapy. Chemotherapy includes powerful medicines that will destroy the cancer cells by damaging its DNA.

Side effects include:

  • Fatigue

  • Vomiting

  • Nausea

  • Hair loss

  • 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 Surgery Cost in India

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.

COMPLICATIONS

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

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.

 

FAQ’S

> 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. 

Dr. Pooja Chaudhary Author Name
Dr. Pooja Chaudhary
Last updated: 15 Sep 2023

Dr. Pooja Chaudhary is a well known health blogger. She writes for some of the well known medical sites in India and US.

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