8 Things You Should Know About Oral Cancer

Oral Health

Oral health is important enough to be a general indicator of the human body. Protecting oral health and not interrupting the treatment protects your body against many diseases. Therefore, brushing teeth regularly, flossing, oral and dental health checks without interruption, paying attention to smoking and alcohol use, and eating foods that harm oral and dental health should be avoided.


What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancers are a common type worldwide. Oral cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in some regions of the mouth and throat. It is the abnormal growth of cells in any part of the mouth area. As with any cancer, early diagnosis is essential in oral cancer. Treatment may become difficult if oral cancer, likely to improve with early diagnosis and treatment, is noticed at an advanced level.


In Which Area Is Oral Cancer Most Common?

Oral cancers can be seen on the lips, tongue, floor of the mouth, palate, inner surface of the cheeks, gums, larynx, or behind the salivary glands. It most commonly occurs in the lips, tongue, and palate areas. Along with these, it can also happen in any area in the mouth.


What Are the Most Common Types of Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is classified according to the time interval in which the tumor or cell begins to grow. The most common is "Squamous Cell Carcinoma.” This cell belongs to a type of non-melanoma skin cancer. It is common to appear on the skin, mouth, and throat. It is usually a malignant cell.

Along with the mouth area, head and neck cancer types are also included in this group. Although less common, these types of cancer are:

  • Nose and sinus tumors
  • Throat cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Thyroid gland cancer
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Hypopharyngeal cancer


What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

The most common symptoms of oral cancer are wounds and lesions in the mouth. These sores and lesions can cause blisters-shaped protrusions in the mouth or on the surface of the lip area. The growth of these lesions can make it difficult to speak and swallow. Oral cancer symptoms vary from person to person, as in other diseases and types of cancer. The common point of people with complaints is the wounds and pain that do not pass through the mouth. In general, if we look at the symptoms;

  • Wounds that do not pass around the mouth or on the lips,
  • Swelling in the neck area,
  • Changes and difficulties in chewing and swallowing reflexes,
  • Constant feeling of congestion in the throat,
  • Weight loss,
  • Speech disorders,
  • Bad breath,
  • Tooth loss,
  • Occurrence of bleeding in the mouth,
  • Numbness in the area where the cancer is,
  • Pain in the tongue area.

These symptoms alone may not be the cause of oral cancer. The point to be considered here is that the symptoms are long-lasting and resistant to recovery. If the symptoms persist for over three weeks, you need an expert opinion.


What Are the Risk Factors of Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer, which occurs with changes in healthy cells, can occur for many reasons.

For these reasons, the most critical risk factors that may predispose to oral cancer are as follows;

  • Use of various tobacco products: Smoking is the most common cause of oral cancer. It has been observed that people who smoke are in a higher risk group than those who do not use it.
  • Alcohol use: long-term alcohol use can make cells more prone to oral cancer.
  • To disrupt or not to have Oral and Dental Health checks.
  • The person has a previous history of cancer.
  • Human papilloma (HPV virus) HPV types 16 and 18 patients.
  • Low immune system
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy Diet / packaged foods
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Exposing the lips to UV rays. UV rays, essential in skin cancer types, are necessary for every oral cancer. However, the negative consequences of UV rays are more significant, especially for people who smoke.
  • Not dwelling on tooth and gum problems.


How is Oral Cancer Diagnosed?

The first process in the diagnosis of oral cancer is physical examination. Even if there are no symptoms the person can notice, the dentist may see tissue changes, wounds, bleeding, or discoloration during the oral and dental health examination.

Once the change in tissue is noticed, the following process is a biopsy. After the diagnosis, imaging procedures can be performed to see if oral cancer has spread to other regions;

  1. X-rays can be taken for the chin, chest, and lung areas. However, since there are today's advanced imaging methods, it is preferred less often.
  2. Especially MR imaging of the head and neck area. MRI is another imaging method. It is a magnetic resonance imaging system.
  3. CT (Computed tomography scan) can be performed to control the lymph.
  4. PET-CT: PET screening is essential in the cancer process. A PET scan shows which parts of the body cancer has spread to and which areas of the body it has not spread.
  5. Endoscopy: Although it is not always necessary, it can be applied in cancers that occur in the nose and throat. 

As in all types of cancer, it is helpful to remind again of the importance of early diagnosis in oral cancer. The treatment methods to be applied after the diagnosis varies according to the type and stage of cancer.


What are the Treatment Methods for Oral Cancer?

In oral cancers, as in many types of cancer, medicated treatment, i.e., chemotherapy, is used, and sometimes chemotherapy is accompanied by surgical treatment and radiotherapy.