Mouth Cancer ; Causes, Symptoms
Karkinos (Greek for Crab) was the name given by Hippocrates (400 BC) to the disease which was subsequently renamed as Cancer (Latin for Crab) by Celsus (47 AD). In naming the disease after a ‘crab’ Hippocrates probably alluded to the tenacity with which it bites and refuses to let go. Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases of the twentieth century. It usually has an insidious onset and is potentially devastating.
What Exactly Is Cancer?
Uncontrollable cell growth, that invades and causes damage to surrounding tissues is known as cancer.
Understanding Oral Cancer
Oral cancer falls under the group of head and neck cancers and appears in the mouth. There are different types of oral cancer, but most oral cancers begin in the tongue or the floor of the mouth, in the flat cells that tend to cover the surfaces of the mouth. Metastatic cancer is the cancer which spreads to another part of the body from where it started. Oral cancer is known to spread through the lymphatic system, where, when the cancer cells enter are carried along by the bright, watery fluid called lymph. This is the reason why metastatic cancer first appears in the lymph nodes in the neck.
A risk factor increases an individuals chance of developing cancer. Most of the risk factors do not directly cause cancer, but influence its development. Some of the risk factors for oral cancer include:
Tobacco Is the single largest risk factor for head and neck cancer. Majority of oral cancer is linked to the use of tobacco in its various forms including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, snuff and chewing of tobacco.
Alcohol Oral cancers are about six times more common among people who tend to consume excess alcohol. The risk of oral cancer is increased more with consumption of alcohol and tobacco together.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Contemporary research shows that HPV virus infection is a risk factor for development of oropharyngeal cancer
Prolonged Exposure to Sun Lip cancer is associated with excessive and unprotected exposure to the sun other risk factors include; Age (increased risk in people older than 45), Skin Colour (higher risk of lip cancer in people with fair skin), Gender (more likely in men), Poor oral hygiene, Poor nutrition and Compromised immune system.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Some of the symptoms or signs in the mouth, which may not be invariably associated with oral cancer are; Red / white patch, pain / bleeding in the mouth, ulcer, ear / jaw pain, loosening of teeth, difficulty in chewing / swallowing and numbness of mouth / tongue.
The various tests which aid in finding out development of cancer or its spread to other parts of the body are; X ray, computed tomography (CT) scan, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and positron emission tomography (PET) CT scan, in addition to other diagnostic tests. However, the conclusive diagnostic test for most types of cancer is biopsy, where in a small sample of the suspected tissue mass is taken out and sent to the laboratory for thorough evaluation.
Oral cancer diagnosed at an early stage can often be cured. The goals of treatment are; complete elimination of cancer and preservation of as much of function as possible, resulting in good outcomes and optimal quality of life, after treatment. The three main treatment modalities are; surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Oral cancer, like other cancers begins when healthy cells change and grow out of control. Early detection improves the survival rates. Treatment depends on the type and stage of cancer, overall health of the patient, patient’s preference and consideration of possible side effects. A combination of the three different modalities of Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, or one modality alone may be used for the treatment of oral cancer. Rehabilitation which helps the patients in regaining and improving the abilities that were adversely effected with treatment, is an integral part of the oral cancer care plan.
[ Also Read – Signs of Lung Cancer ]
About the Doctor:
Dr Ramakanth Reddy Dubbudu – Chief Consultant Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
Dr Ramakanth Reddy Dubbudu practices a nearly full spectrum of oral and maxillofacial surgery, with a special interest in facial deformity, facial aesthetic & reconstructive surgery, as well as temporomandibular joint surgery. He is a staunch, passionate practitioner of medical ethics and medico-legal aspects in surgical practice.
About Sunshine Hospitals:
A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr. AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma and Neurology.