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Oral Cancer Stages

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Oral cancer stages play an important to role in understanding the intensity of the malignant tumors. Different treatments are recommended for different stages of mouth cancer and the severity of treatment may depend upon the immune system of the victim, his ability to sustain the treatment and the feasibility of cure in eliminating or curbing cancer cells.

What are oral cancer stages? Stages or oral or mouth cancer are basically the phases in which the cancerous cells develop or spread from one location to another. Stages also indicate the change in size of the tumors and alterations in the pattern of their development. Sign of cancer and risk factors responsible for the progress of malignant cells from one phase to another may not be the same for all persons even though they happen to suffer from the same stage. Also, the life expectancy of a patient depends largely upon other health complications he might be suffering from while experiencing a particular stage of the cancer.

Stages of oral cancer are usually of four different types with the first stage being the most moderate while the last stage being the severest. Cancerous tumors in the oral cavity usually develop gradually in the initial stages of the disease but the development becomes more rapid and intense once the tumors develop a tendency to metastasize.

Importance of oral cancer stages

Treatment pattern and its possible outputs largely depend upon the stage of the disease. Oral cancer is one of the severest types of cancerous disorders and the fatality rate is very high. Oral cancer is treatable if detected and diagnosed in the early stages but the possibilities of eliminating the cancer tumors decrease with an increase in the intensity of malignant cells. Situation becomes worse when the tumors start metastasizing to other parts like the throat, lungs, neck or brains and may make the process of diagnosis complicated and time-consuming.

Survival Period of oral cancer is high in the initial stages and drops considerably in the later phases. It is around 90% for stage 1 of the disease and dips significantly to around 20% in stage 4. This cast difference in the survival rate is mainly because of the late detection of the tumors. In more than 70% of the overall oral cancer cases, the tumors are detected when they have already reached third or fourth stage. Also, the life expectancy of a person decreases if the tumors are not detected early.

Stages for oral cancer also indicate the important causes and symptoms to consider while detecting or diagnosing cancerous growth. Risk factors may vary according to the habits and lifestyle of the person and may also depend upon certain genetic and geographical factors. Continuous and excess exposure to sunlight is very harmful for lips and may cause cell abnormalities or formation of tumors in the lip areas. Situation may worsen if the malignant cells spread to other areas like tongue and gums.

Some of the infections like AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and sexually transmitted diseases like Human Papillomavirus (HPV) may alter the pattern of abnormal cell-development severely. These infections cause major complications in the health of the victim and make the process of diagnosis and detection of cancer tumors difficult. Tobacco chewing and consumption of carcinogenic substances including smoking and excess alcohol drinking are the direct causes of oral cancer. Persons having such habits must be very particular about their health and undergo a regular medical examination as the process of detecting tumors in the early stages is difficult and time-consuming in such people.

Staging of cancer also depends upon certain genetic factors. The disease can be hereditary in certain cases. Also, people having personal or family background of cancer or cancer treatment are highly vulnerable to malignant infection in the oral areas. Thus, staging of oral cancer is an approximate and not accurate sorting of the cancerous development.

Basic oral cancer stages

Oral cancer develops primarily in five different stages. Intensity and progression of the malignant cells from one stage to another may depend upon a variety of factors but the person's immune system playa a main role in deciding the pace of abnormal cell-growth. Stage 0 is the earliest stage of oral cancer. This phase is also known as carcinoma in situ and the cancer cells are detected in very small quantities mostly in the linings of mouth or lips.

Stage 1 is a phase in which the quantity of infected cells increase considerably. The malignant cells develop an ability to form tumors but show no tendency to metastasize. Tumor size is usually less than 2cm and hardly spread to lymph nodes.

Stage 2 is a phase wherein the tumor size increases to more than 2cm but restricts itself to less than 4cm. Tumors do not spread to lymph nodes even in this phase.

Stage 3 is a phase where the disease starts getting severe. Tumor-size grows to more than 4cm and the infected cells start metastasizing to the lymph nodes. Chances of curing the disease considerably decrease in this stage as compared to the earlier ones.

Stage 4 is the final stage of oral cancer. Tumor size increases and the malignant cells spread to vital organs like throat, neck or any other areas adjacent to the head and neck areas and make the process of detection and diagnosis on oral cancer quite difficult.

Recurrence of oral cancer has been a major concern for those who were treated for the disease in the third or fourth stages as the chances of complete elimination of malignant cells is almost impossible.

Understanding oral cancer stages can be very helpful in increasing the life expectancy and survival rate of the disease. Some of the important tests like lip or tongue biopsy, normal biopsy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan are very helpful to detect the tumors in the right stages. Stages of cancer can be of immense help in the process of research of oral cancer and also help in exploring breakthroughs for oral cancer.

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