Today is World Cancer Day and every year lakhs of people die due to this dreaded disease. Today we talk about oral or mouth cancer that kills a lot of Indians. Oral cancer can appear anywhere in the mouth, including the inside of the cheeks and the gums. It is a type of head and neck cancer where early detection is the key !
It often comes under the category of oral and Oropharyngeal cancer and affects the back of the mouth and the lining of the throat along with the gums and loosening of teeth.
According to the Indian Cancer Society (ICS), around 50,000 Indians are diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer every year.
The average age at diagnosis is 52 years old, but around 25% of cases happen before the age of 45 say the ICS. The disease is more likely to affect males than females.
In the early stages, there are often no signs or symptoms of oral cancer.
Smokers and heavy drinkers should have regular checkups with the dentist, as tobacco and alcohol are risk factors for mouth cancer.
The dentist may be able to spot any signs at an early stage and regular dental visits are a must !
Signs that cancer could develop eventually are –
- Patients suffering from Leukoplakia: Chronic white patches in the mouth that do not disappear when a person rubs them.
- Oral lichen planus: Chronic areas of white lines with a reddish border, possibly with ulceration that kept on reappearing !
- Many oral lesions may be precancerous. They do not mean that someone has cancer, but people should speak to their doctor about any changes that occur in the mouth.
- Monitoring changes may help spot mouth cancer in the early stages when it is easier to treat.
If cancer develops in the oral cavity , certain signs are very visible, like –
- patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue, usually red or red and white
- bleeding, pain, or numbness in the mouth
- mouth ulcers or sores that do not heal
- a lump or thickening of the gums or lining of the mouth
- loose teeth with no apparent reason
- poorly fitting dentures
- swelling in the jaw
- a feeling that something is stuck in the throat
- a hoarse voice
- difficulty chewing or swallowing
- difficulty moving the tongue or jaw
A doctor may recommend surgery to remove the tumor and a margin of healthy tissue around it.
Surgery may involve removing:
- part of the tongue
- the jawbone
- lymph nodes
If the procedure significantly changes the person’s appearance or their ability to talk or eat, they may need reconstructive surgery.
Oral cancers respond well to radiation therapy . This treatment uses beams of high energy X-rays or radiation particles to damage the DNA inside the tumor cells, destroying their ability to reproduce.
External beam radiation: A machine targets the affected area with radiation beams.
Brachytherapy: The surgeon will use radioactive needles to deliver radiation to the tumor inside the body. A doctor may recommend this for people with early stage tongue cancer.
Adverse effects of radiation therapy in the mouth may include:
- tooth decay
- mouth sores
- bleeding gums
- jaw stiffness
- Extreme fatigue
- skin reactions, such as a burn
Treatment will likely be more effective in people who do not smoke or have already quit.
Whatever the case, early detection is the key to better treatment and helps us help our patients better .
For further consultation do contact your nearest Partha Dental clinic today or book an appointment online !