Oral Cancer

What is Oral Cancer?

Mouth cancer is one of several forms of cancer that make up the head and neck cancers category. Mouth cancer, like other head and neck cancers, is frequently treated in the same way. Mouth cancer is a type of cancer that develops in any of the mouth's components (oral cavity). Mouth cancer can develop on any of the following surfaces:

  • Lips
  • Tongue
  • Gums
  • Roof of the mouth
  • Inner lining of your cheeks
  • Floor of your mouth/under your tongue

Medica’s oncology department excels in providing world-class cancer treatment driven by their collective clinical excellence of over 30+ years. With a multidisciplinary approach to treating all types and forms of cancer, our oncologists and onco-surgeons are supported by the latest cancer treatment technologies along with a team of highly-skilled reconstructive surgeons who deliver extensive treatment to all of our patients, adults and children alike.

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Types

Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Squamous cell carcinomas account for more than 90% of malignancies in the oral cavity. Squamous cells, which are flat and appear like fish scales on a microscopic level, border the throat and mouth in normal circumstances. When some squamous cells mutate and become aberrant, squamous cell cancer develops.

Verrucous Carcinoma

Verrucous carcinoma, a form of relatively slow-growing cancer made up of squamous cells, accounts for about 5% of all oral cavity malignancies. Oral cancer of this type seldom spreads to other regions of the body, but it can infiltrate adjacent tissue.

Minor Salivary Gland Carcinomas

This condition refers to a variety of oral cancers that can form on the minor salivary glands that are found throughout the mouth and throat walls. Adenoid cystic carcinoma, mucoepidermoid carcinoma, and polymorphous low-grade adenocarcinoma are examples of these cancers.

Adenoid Cystic Tumor

This is a rare tumor that arises from glandular tissue in the salivary glands or the mouth. This form of cancer is most commonly found in the parotid gland.

Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a type of oral cancer that develops in lymph tissue, which is part of the immune system. Lymphocytic tissue can be seen in the tonsils and the base of the tongue.

Melanoma

Melanomas arise from pigment-producing cells in the skin, which give it its color. Melanomas of the head and neck can develop anywhere on the skin, including the interior of the nose and mouth (oral cavity).

Non-Cancerous Oral Cavity Tumors

The oral cavity and oropharynx can develop a variety of non-cancerous tumors and tumor-like disorders. These diseases can sometimes progress to cancer. As a result, benign tumors are frequently surgically removed.

Leukoplakia and Erythroplakia

Leukoplakia and erythroplakia are non-cancerous disorders that develop in the mouth or throat when certain types of aberrant cells appear. A white area appears when leukoplakia develops, but erythroplakia appears as a red spot that may be flat or slightly elevated and typically bleeds when scraped. Both diseases are precancerous, which means they have the potential to grow into cancer.

Symptoms

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of oral cancer:

  • A persistent pain on the lip or in the mouth
  • On the inside of your mouth, a white or reddish area
  • Teeth that are loose
  • A bump or growth inside your mouth
  • Mouthache
  • Earache
  • Swallowing is difficult or uncomfortable.
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Causes

Mouth cancers originate when the DNA of cells on the lips or in the mouth undergoes mutations. The DNA of a cell includes the instructions that tell it what to do. When healthy cells would perish, the mutations tell the cells to keep growing and dividing. A tumor can occur when abnormal mouth cancer cells accumulate. They may spread from inside the mouth to other sections of the head and neck, as well as other parts of the body, over time.

The flat, thin cells (squamous cells) that line your lips and the inside of your mouth are where most mouth cancers start. Squamous cell carcinomas account for the majority of mouth malignancies.

Other Risk Factors

  • Tobacco use in any form, such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and snuff, is prohibited.
  • Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Lips that have been exposed to too much sunlight
  • Human papillomavirus is a sexually transmitted virus (HPV)
  • Immune system dysfunction
Stages

Oral cancer is divided into four stages.

Stage I: The tumor is 2 centimeters or less in diameter and has not migrated to the lymph nodes.

Stage II: The cancer is 2-4 cm in diameter and has not migrated to the lymph nodes.

Stage III: Either the tumor is larger than 4 cm and has not spread to the lymph nodes, or it is any size and has spread to one lymph node but not to other parts of the body.

Stage IV: Tumors of any size have expanded to surrounding tissues, lymph nodes, or other parts of the body, and cancer cells have spread to nearby tissues, lymph nodes, or other parts of the body.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may do one or more of the following tests in addition to a physical examination and a tissue biopsy:

  • X-rays are used to determine whether cancer cells have moved to the jaw, chest, or lungs.
  • A CT scan to look for tumors in your mouth, throat, neck, lungs, or other parts of your body; a PET scan to see if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs.
  • An MRI scan to obtain a more accurate image of the head and neck and to evaluate the cancer’s size or stage.
  • A nasal endoscopy, sinus endoscopy, inner throat endoscopy, windpipe endoscopy, and trach endoscopy will also be performed.
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Treatment

Oral cancer treatment varies based on the kind, location, and stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis.

Surgery: The tumor and malignant lymph nodes are frequently removed during surgery in the early stages. Other tissue around the lips and neck may also be removed.

Radiation Therapy: Another alternative is radiation therapy. For two to eight weeks, a doctor will direct radiation beams at the tumor once or twice a day, five days a week. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are frequently used in advanced phases of cancer treatment.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a drug-based treatment that kills cancer cells. You can take the drug orally or through an intravenous (IV) line. The majority of patients receive chemotherapy as an outpatient, while some do require hospitalization.

Targeted Therapy: Another type of treatment is targeted therapy. It can be used to treat cancer in both early and advanced stages. Drugs used in targeted therapy bind to specific proteins on cancer cells and prevent them from growing.

Mouth Health & Hygiene: Finally, keeping your tongue healthy while undergoing cancer treatment is critical. Maintain good oral hygiene by keeping your mouth moist and your teeth and gums clean.

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