Oral cancer is an abnormal, potentially malignant growth on any of the soft tissues of your mouth and throat. It can occur in the gums, tongue, roof or floor of the mouth, cheek, and perhaps less visibly in the tonsils and salivary glands.
The most common type of oral cancer is a squamous cell carcinoma, a cancer of the cells lining the tissues of your mouth and are exposed to the outside world. Other forms of cancer, albeit less common, include oral malignant melanoma and adenocarcinomas. These are cancers of the skin’s pigment cells and mucous and salivary glands of the mouth respectively.
The cancer may present with a range of symptoms and there is no defined list. Most commonly they come with discoloured pale or red patches, a lump which is usually felt and is the immediate cause for concern and ulcers, which can potentially increase the likelihood of cancer in a variety of tissues if present.
The range of other potential symptoms includes constant pain and inflammation, swollen bodies on your jaw and down your neck, difficulty speaking, eating and moving the muscles of your jaw and perhaps weight loss because of these difficulties. Additionally the cancer may cause bleeding which is noticeable upon brushing your teeth: Blood in your saliva is a major symptom for a variety of conditions besides cancer including gum disease and infection and it is recommended you seek medical attention for this even if it doesn’t present alongside the other symptoms of oral cancer just described.
There are a number of factors that could increase your likelihood of developing oral cancer. Many such as smoking, other forms of tobacco, alcohol and radiation predispose you towards cancer in general. Other factors such as poor dental hygiene, a history of gum disease or human papilloma virus (HPV) or a poor diet can also contribute.
Alternatively a growth in the mouth may be caused by a metastasis (spreading) of a cancer originating from another part of your body, and will be treated accordingly dependent on its classification.
The exact therapy received for oral cancer will be personal and dependent on your lifestyle and priorities: A combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy is a standard course of action. Additionally more novel techniques such as photodynamic therapy can be used for very early stage cancers. This technique involves sensitising cancer cells to certain wavelengths of light, making them absorb energy readily. With the application of this light the cancer cells are selectively targeted and killed while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Doctify Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. In the event of an emergency, please call 999 for immediate assistance.