Oral cancer is a type of cancer that affects the mouth, lips, tongue, cheeks, throat, and sinuses. It is a serious and often life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
The symptoms of oral cancer can vary depending on the location of the tumour. Some common signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Patches inside the mouth or on the lips that are white, red, or dark
- A sore or lump in the mouth or on the lips that doesn’t heal
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Mouth sores that bleed easily or don’t heal
- Pain or discomfort in the mouth or throat
- A feeling of something caught in the throat
Causes of Oral Cancer
The main cause of oral cancer is prolonged exposure to risk factors such as tobacco or alcohol. People who smoke or use smokeless tobacco are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer. Heavy alcohol use can also increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Other risk factors include infections with the human papillomavirus (HPV), poor oral hygiene, genetics, and exposure to excessive sun or other sources of ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Early detection of oral cancer is crucial for successful treatment. Your dentist or doctor may perform an oral exam to look for signs of oral cancer. This may involve a visual inspection of your mouth and throat, as well as a physical examination of your head and neck. Biopsy, imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans, and other diagnostic tests may also be used to diagnose oral cancer.
The treatment for oral cancer generally involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these. The treatment depends on the stage and location of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health.
There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer. These include:
- Avoiding tobacco products – smoking, chewing tobacco, or using snuff
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Practicing good oral hygiene – brushing your teeth regularly and flossing daily
- Eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Avoiding excessive sun exposure and using lip balm with sunscreen
In summary, oral cancer is a serious condition that can be prevented with early detection and treatment. Be sure to have regular dental checkups and talk to your dentist if you have any concerns about your oral health. By adopting a healthy lifestyle and avoiding risk factors, you can reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.