The Definition of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is also known as mouth cancer is a type of head and neck cancer and is any cancerous tissue growth in the oral cavity. It may originate in the tissues of the mouth or from a distant site such as the nasal cavity. 90% of the cancers of the mouth are squamous cell carcinomas. Mouth cancers involve the tongue, floor of the mouth/palate, cheek lining, gums, lips.
What are the Causes of Oral Cancer?
Oral cancers present as non- healing ulcers (no sign of healing after 2 weeks)
Following habits present a strong risk factor for causing oral cancers:
- Tobacco chewing
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Poor oral hygiene
- Irritation caused by ill-fitting dentures and other rough surfaces of teeth
- Poor nutrition
- Chronic infections caused by bacteria/fungi or viruses
What is Oral Cancer Screening(premalignant lesions)?
A precancerous lesion is defined as benign, morphologically altered tissue that has a greater than normal risk of malignant transformation. There are several types of premalignant lesions that occur in the mouth like white patches(leukoplakia), red patches (erythroplakia), the combination of the red and white patches, oral lichen planus, oral submucous fibrosis, etc.
Thus screening for oral cancers is important because if detected in its early stages it decreases mortality and helps to improve treatment
What is the Oral Cancer Symptoms?
- Visible or palpable lesion of lip
- Tongue or other areas of the mouth
- Ulcers that don’t heal beyond 2 weeks
- Bleeding in ulcers
- Difficulty in speaking/chewing/swallowing/mouth opening,
- Change in colour/texture of lining of the mouth.
Diagnosis is possible by doing a tissue biopsy of the affected area.
What is the Oral Cancer Treatments?
- Stopping of habit
- Disuse of ill-fitting oral prosthesis
- Smoothening of rough teeth causing injury
- Improving oral hygiene and nutrition
In case of appearance of premalignant lesions-constant screening of lesions even after habits are discontinued.
In more severe cases excision of a tumour, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be required to treat oral cancers.