Oral and Throat Cancer

What is oral cancer?

Oral cancer is a part of a group of head and neck cancers. It is any cancerous tissue growth that occurs in the mouth or any other part of the oral cavity. This form of cancer can originate from any of the tissues in the oral cavity and may come in different types.

The most common oral cancer today is squamous cell carcinoma which develops from the tissues that line the mouth as well as the lips. Oral cancers may also develop in the tongue tissues as well as in the palate, cheek lining or the gums.

When oral cancer metastasizes or spreads, it usually travels by way of the lymphatic system. The cancer cells are carried along the lymphatic system by lymph and they first appear in the lymph nodes in the neck. The cancer cells can also spread on other parts of the body.

When the cancer cells spreads to other parts of the body such as the lungs, they still have the same characteristics as the primary tumor from where they came from. Even though the oral cancer cells have spread into a patient’s lungs, it is still treated as oral cancer, not lung cancer.

Risk factors of oral cancer

Doctors have found out that there are certain risk factors that can bring about increased chances of developing oral cancer in an individual. One of the risk factors is the use of tobacco. Tobacco use, such as smoking cigarettes, pipes or cigars, as well as chewing tobacco as a habit, have been linked to oral cancer. Heavy smokers or those who have used tobacco for long periods have a higher risk of developing oral cancer.

Alcohol is also seen to develop oral cancer in people. This risk increases the higher the amount of alcohol a person drinks on a regular basis. The risks of developing oral cancer are even higher for those people who both are using both tobacco as well as alcohol. Too much exposure to the sun has also been linked to the development of oral cancer in some people.

It might start out as cancer on the lip due to over exposure to the sun. Blocking the sun’s harmful rays by using sun block lotion or lip balm has been seen to help reduce the risk of oral cancer. Another risk factor for oral cancer includes people who’ve had head and neck cancer before.

How to prevent oral cancer?

The best way to detect oral cancer is by having regular check-ups with your dentist or doctor. These check-ups may help detect unusual tissue growth inside the mouth that may show signs of cancer. It would also help if you personally request your dentist or doctor to include checking the tissues around your mouth as part of your regular dental check-ups.

Symptoms of oral cancer

Oral cancer also shows several symptoms in different areas of the mouth. Knowing these symptoms will help give you an idea if you are at risk of oral cancer. One of the common symptoms includes patches inside the mouth or lips. These patches may be white, red or a mixture of both red and white.

Having a sore on the lip or mouth that won’t heal is also another symptom that oral cancer might already be developing. Frequent bleeding in the mouth and the experience of having loose teeth may also show signs that you might have oral cancer. Other possible symptoms include difficulty in swallowing or wearing dentures, a lump on the neck and frequent earache.