Common Symptoms In Oral Cancer Patients
Some common symptoms of oral cancer patients are:
- Swellings, bumps or lumps, crusts/rough spots/ damaged lap areas on the cheek, gums, and other areas in your mouth.
- Velvety, red and white patches inside the mouth
- Numbness, loss of feeling, or tenderness/pain in mouth, neck, or face areas
- Soreness of feeling that something is present in your throat’s back area
- Difficulty to swallow, speak or chew in moving the tongue or jaw
- Pain in ear
- Chronic sore throat, hoarseness, and voice change
- Pain or swelling in the jaw. After putting dentures, they can be uncomfortable or hard to put on.
- A change in teeth dentures fit.
- Major weight loss
When you notice any such changes, you should contact your health care professional or dentist.
Who Is At The Risk Of Developing Oral Cancer?
According to studies, men are at twice the risk of developing oral cancer compared to women. Men aged above 50 have high-risk factors. It is estimated that up to 50,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer in the upcoming year.
Some risk factors for oral cancer are:
- Smoking: Cigar, cigarette, or pipe smokers are up to six times more likely than non-smokers to get oral cancers.
- Excessive alcohol consumption: Oral cancer is six times more seen in drinkers than nondrinkers. The use of tobacco and alcohol also increases the chances.
- Using smokeless tobacco: Using snuff, dip, or chewing tobacco products increases the risk of getting oral cancer up to 50 times. Users can develop cancers in the gums, cheeks, and lip lining.
- Age: Oral cancers take many years to grow. Most people find that they catch it after 55. However, younger men can also get oral cancers due to HPV.
- Bad diet: There have been studies on oral cancer and not eating fruits and vegetables.
- Gender: Men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer. It is as if men smoke and drink more than women.
- Family history: Having a cancer family history is a major factor for oral cancer.
- Sun rays: Sun exposure, especially when you’re young. Harmful UV rays can lead to lip cancers.
Diagnosis Of Oral Cancer
The dentist must conduct an oral cancer screening exam as a routine dental exam. The dentist can spot any cancer in progress. Experts recommend getting checked for oral cancers each year at 18 and sooner when you begin smoking.
Your dentist would check for abnormal tissue changes or lumps in your face, head, oral cavity, and neck. After examining the mouth, the dentist would look for discolored tissue and any symptoms or signs mentioned.
Dentists can prefer a biopsy for the makeup of suspicious areas. Different biopsies are there, and your doctor can suggest the best one. Doctors mostly don’t go for brush biopsies as they don’t easily confirm the outcomes. Also, different biopsies are there, like excisional and incisional. It is based on whether only a piece or an entire area is needed. Many doctors use lasers to perform such biopsies.
Treatment Forms Of Oral Cancer
The suggested type of oral cancer treatment is based on the stage and location of cancer, along with personal and health preferences. You might only get one treatment or many types. The main treatment options are radiation, oral cancer surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Doctors can suggest any of these.
There are many surgery processes for mouth cancer. Some best options are:
Surgery To Remove Tumor: The surgeon would cut the tumor and a healthy nearby tissue part to remove all cancer cells. Doctors remove small cancers with minor surgery. Larger tumors would need complex processes. For example, removing a large tumor can also need removing a jawbone part of a tongue portion.
Surgery for removing cancer spread to the neck: When cancer cells spread to lymph nodes on the neck or any evidence that it is happening because of the depth and size of cancer, the surgeon would recommend a process for removing lymph nodes and neck issues.
Neck dissection surgery: When cancer cells spread to lymph nodes on the neck or nearby, high risk is there because of the depth and size of cancer. The surgeon would suggest a process for removing lymph nodes and such neck issues.
It also removes any cancer cells spread to the lymph nodes. Also, it is useful to find out whether you need further treatment post-surgery.
Mouth reconstruction surgery: After surgery to remove cancer, your surgeon can also refer to reconstructive surgery to rebuild the mouth or help you regain the ability to eat and talk. The surgeon would also transplant the skin grafts, bone, or muscle from other body parts. You can also use dental implants for teeth replacement.
Surgery has some risk of infection and bleeding. Mouth cancer surgery also affects your appearance and the ability to eat, swallow, and speak.
You need a tube for eating and taking medicine. The tube is present in the stomach and nose for short-time use. It inserts from the nose and sits in the stomach for a long time. Your doctor refers you to specialists to help you adjust to these changes.
This therapy also uses high-energy beams, like protons and X-rays. Radiation therapy uses a machine out of the body (external beam radiation), though it also comes from radioactive wires and seeds near the cancer site.
Surgeons often use radiation therapy post-surgery. However, sometimes, they use it alone for early oral cancer stages. For other problems, you can mix radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The combination also makes radiation therapy more effective, and it relieves the signs of cancer-like pain.
Radiation therapy’s side effects on your mouth are tooth decay, dry mouth, and jawbone damage.
Doctors suggest patients check with their dentists before starting radiation therapy to ensure that their teeth are healthy. Unhealthy teeth would need removal or fixing. Dentists explain how to provide great care for teeth before or after radiation therapy to minimize complications.
Targeted Drug Therapy
Targeted drugs have shown promising outcomes in treating oral cancer after changing certain cancer cells fueling their growth. Oncologists use these either alone or with radiation and chemotherapy.
Cetuximab (Erbitux) is a targeted therapy for treating mouth cancers in different situations. Cetuximab can stop the protein action available in healthy cells, but it is also prevalent in different cancer cells. Some side effects are itching, headache, skin rash, infections, and diarrhea.
Targeted drugs are an option when standard treatments don’t work.
This method fights cancer with the help of your immune system. The body’s immune system normally doesn’t attack cancer cells. This is because cancer cells make proteins that blind immune system cells. With immunotherapy, you interfere with that process.
The therapy is for advanced-stage oral cancer people who don’t respond to regular processes.
The Ideal Treatment Plan
Your oral cancer treatment is based on:
- The size and type of cancer
- Stage and grade of cancer (how far it spreads)
- General health
People are cured with oral cancer surgery when cancer has not spread beyond the mouth or the throat part at your mouth’s back area.
Sometimes doctors refer to chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy mix. They refer to it when cancer moves to the neck. Doctors suggest the treatment with the advice and help of the cancer care team, but it’s you who has to approve.
Before choosing an ideal treatment plan, you can note some questions to ask the doctor.
Example: You can ask about the duration, oral cancer treatment cost, benefits, or side effects of the treatment.
Survival And Recovery Chances For People With Oral Cancer
The 5-year survival rate of early oral cancer patients diagnosed with pharynx cancers is 84%. When cancer spreads to nearby organs, lymph nodes, and tissues, the 5-year survival rate can drop by 65%.
To get the right treatment choice with a reasonable oral cancer treatment cost, you can consult the University Cancer Centers’ expert doctors and get relief from all your worries. With top-end doctors who care for their patients and use the most updated technologies with proper medical knowledge, we ensure that we address all your health issues and make a living better.