Cancer » Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is a common type of disease originating primarily in the oral cavity or the areas nearby. It comes under the category of head and neck cancer and requires to be treated similarly as the cancer of head and neck. The cancer can be primary or secondary in nature and may be fatal if left untreated for a long time.
Understanding mouth (oral) cancer
Mouth cancer and oral cancer is one and the same and it originates in various areas like tongue, teeth and gums, lips, tonsils, cheek lining, hard palate (root of the mouth), soft palate (back of the mouth), floor of the mouth, sinus, throat or the salivary glands. Primary oral cancer is the condition in which the cancerous cells develop in the oral cavity and spread to other areas of the body at a later or advanced stage. Secondary type of mouth cancer is the condition in which the cancerous cells develop in the organs other than the oral cavity and reach the oral cavity later.
Most cases of the oral cancer belong to squamous cell carcinoma. In such cases, the cancerous cells develop in the outer lining of the lips and mouth. The malignant cells primarily target the tissues present in these linings and penetrate further as the intensity of the disease increase. The cancerous cells spread very rapidly and may become uncontrollable if not treated in time. Most oral cancers develop in the floor of the mouth or tongue.
The cancer develops when a group of cancerous or malignant cells invade the healthy tissues and stop them from working normally. The tissues perform the vital function of supplying blood and oxygen to various areas of the body. Hence, the restrictions put by the malignant cells severely impact the supply of blood and oxygen. Cells cannot develop properly if the tissues are unable to perform their functions and the overall cell-growth process collapses. The cancerous cells not only damage and kill tissues and cells but also replace them with the cancerous ones. Presence of cancerous cells forces other cells to grow and divide uncontrollably and spread all over the body.
This leads to the rapid generation of unnecessary cells and restricts old cells from dying naturally. These excess cells form a lump commonly known as tumor. Tumor can be benign or cancerous depending upon the stage of cancer. Normally, benign tumors are formed in the precancerous stage and may turn cancerous if left untreated for a long time. Areas affected by the benign tumors are more prone to invasion by the malignant cells.
Benign tumors are generally non-destructive and do not attempt to kill or damage healthy tissues or cells. The infected cells do not grow rapidly or spread to other parts of the body. These tumors can be cured completely by surgery or any other methods recommended and have rare chances of redevelopment. The cancerous tumors are the main threat to the body as they develop quite rapidly. Their main aim is to invade and destroy the normal tissues and cells and replace them by the cancerous ones. It is very difficult to control these malignant cells in the later stages as they rarely respond to the treatment. They spread to other parts of the body through bloodstream or lymph nodes and form separate tumors in the areas they invade. It is very difficult to eliminate them by way of surgery or other available treatments and chance of their reappearance is considerably high.
General awareness about oral cancer
Mouth cancer is curable if detected early and treated appropriately. It is very necessary to know the basic causes and symptoms of the disease to make yourself safe and less prone to the infection. Smoking is an important cause of lip cancer. It is very necessary for smokers to examine their lips regularly if an unusual pain or bleeding is experienced from the lips or adjacent areas. Excess exposure to sun may also cause damage to lips and increase the chances of development of malignant cells.
Excess consumption of alcohol and tobacco chewing are other important causes leading to mouth cancer. They may cause ulcers or infections in the oral cavity and make the infected area more prone to the cancer attack. Person suffering from other types of head and neck cancers is also at a higher risk of oral cancer. Persons with the family history of the disease are also at slightly higher risk. Presence of human papilloma virus (HPV) in the body may put the person at risk. Maintaining good dental and oral hygiene is extremely important.
A strong immune system is the key to protect you from the cancerous infection of mouth. Poor immunity makes the body tissues and cells weaker and more susceptible to infection. Eat vegetables, salad and fruits daily and maintain a balanced and hygienic diet. Exercise regularly to keep your weight under control, and avoid oily or fat-rich food.
Soreness or lump in the mouth or other areas of oral cavity is the most important indication of the presence of tumor. Uneasiness in lip movement, problems in chewing food and throat pain are some other important indications of the disease. Some may also experience problems in swallowing, irregular pain or uneasiness in the tongue and difficulties in speaking. Swelling in the lymph nodes, especially near the neck must be diagnosed immediately. Unusual bleeding in the mouth, tongue or other areas of the oral cavity needs urgent attention. Unexpected weight loss is also another indirect indicator of the oral cancer.
Oral cancer can be fatal if ignored for a long period. Biopsy, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI scan), endoscopy, ultrasound and computed tomography scan (CT scan) are some of the important techniques to examine the body internally. Chemical therapy, surgery and radiation therapy are some common types of treatments recommended. The victim should be made aware of the type of treatment he will be undergoing and side effects of the same.