Oral cancer



Oral cancer or oral cavity cancer, a subtype of head and neck cancer, is any cancerous tissue growth located in the oral cavity. It may arise as a primary lesion originating in any of the oral tissues

Signs and symptoms

Skin lesion, lump, or ulcer

  • On the tongue, lip, or other mouth area
  • Usually small
  • Most often pale colored, may be dark or discolored
  • Early sign may be a white patch (leukoplakia) or a red patch (erythroplakia) on the soft tissues of the mouth
  • Usually painless initially
  • May develop a burning sensation or pain when the tumor is advanced

Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:

  • Tongue problems
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Mouth sores that do not resolve in 14 days
  • Pain and paraesthesia are late symptoms.

Oral Cancer Causes

The number one cause of oral cancer is tobacco, both inhaled and smokeless. Patients who smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipes or other inhaled products are at increased risk.

Smokeless tobacco products, such as snuff, are also very detrimental. Anyone who “puts a little bit between your cheek and gum” is making a big mistake when it comes to preserving their oral health.

Diagnosis of Oral Cancer

In order to be sure you do NOT have any form of oral cancer, you need to be examined by a dentist or physician or an annual basis. Self-examination is not enough. At a dental office, your dentist will examine your oral tissues, and can determine if you are healthy. This is especially important if you smoke.

If your dentist suspects that you may have an oral malignancy, a biopsy may be ordered. This is a definitive diagnostic procedure and should always be followed if there is a suspicious area.

Treatment for Oral Cancer

When the diagnosis of oral cancer is made, surgical excision is the treatment of choice. Fortunately, if this is performed early, survival is often assured. Unfortunately, early detection is sometimes not made, and the survival rate is low.

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