Mouth cancer spreads mildly in early stage with mild symptoms most often develop into common oral lesions such as mouth sores, tongue ulcers, and common gum disease such as gingivitis.
As National Institute of Dental Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) released that mouth cancer has accounted to 3% each year of all cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. Over half of the patients survive and the survival rates get higher in cases diagnosed early enough.
A regular dental check up is important because your dentist will look for and recognize early warning symptoms of oral cancer. It is also important for yourself to learn and remember these health alerts that even a tiny mouth lesion will not escape your attention.
Oral Cancer Early Signs
Oral cancer can appear on any part of the soft tissues of the mouth, which include:
Tissue that lines lips and cheeks
Part of the mouth under the tongue, called the floor
Roof of the mouth
When to worry about the lesions or when should you go to the doctors:
Sores, lumps, swelling or patches found in you mouth or throat
Red or white patches in on your tongue or the surface of your mouth
Swelling throat, lumps in throat, swollen lymph nodes in neck
Swelling gums or inflammations causing toothache
Sudden numb in your mouth or tongue
Sudden numbness, pain, or tingling in your cheek
Earaches on one side without hearing loss or infections
Difficulty in chewing, swallowing or speech
What happens in your mouth
The exact reason of mouth cancer remains uncertain, unhealthy lifestyles can put you at higher risk of oral lesions. Smoking can lead to cancer in mouth and tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes greatly increase the risk. The mouth cancer foundation reports that 90% of people with mouth consume tobacco products. Alcohol abuse can be the second largest risk factor that increases the chances of developing oral cancer and its association with smoking is more serious.
In addiction to smoking and drinking, sexually transmitted disease such as human papillomavirus sometimes found in oral cancer cases recently, at the back of the throat, the base of the tongue, in salivary glands and in the tonsils.
Severe sun exposure also increases your risk of oral cancer.
Most cases of oral cancer occur in people over the age of 45 and those who exposed to large amounts of radiation and people with head neck cancer.
Detection and Treatment Options
An oral cancer screening by your dentist in a regular dental checkup is the first line of defense for detection in the early stages of mouth lesions. During a routine examination of your teeth and gums, the doctor will also check your lips, mouth, cheeks to look for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions. When a suspected mouth lesion found by your doctor, a biopsy of the area will be recommended according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).
If diagnosed positive, surgery followed by radiation and chemotherapy might be necessary to clear the affected area. Surgery for oral cancer include surgery to cut the tumor; surgery to remove carcinoma cells that spreads to the throat or neck; surgery to reconstruct the mouth.