Oral Cancer - Understanding And Treatment

Oral Cancer - Understanding And Treatment

Oral cancer cannot be taken lightly given that it is fairly common in India. It is therefore helpful to build more awareness about the disease, the symptoms, treatment and preventive measures.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral Cancer, also known as Mouth Cancer, is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissues of lips, tongue, cheeks or floor of the mouth.

Why Oral Cancer is a Threat?

Oral cancer includes cancers of the mouth and the pharynx i.e. the back of the throat. It ranks among the top three of all cancers in India. This translates to over 30% of all cancers reported in the country.

How is Oral Cancer Caused?

Most cases of oral cancer are linked to cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol use. Taken together, tobacco and alcohol pose a much greater risk than using either substance alone.

Infection with the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (specifically the HPV 16 type) has been associated with a subset of oral cancers.

Sun exposure can cause cancer of the lip.

Risk of oral cancer increases with age – it is most often detected in people over the age of 40.

What Are Its Symptoms?

The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:

A person who has any of these symptoms for over 2 weeks should see a dentist or doctor for an oral cancer exam. Most often, symptoms like those listed above do not mean cancer. An infection or another problem can cause the same symptoms. But it's important to have the symptoms checked out—because if it is cancer, it can be treated more successfully when detected earlier.

How to detect oral cancer at the earliest?

Visiting the dentist or doctor regularly can help in early detection of oral cancer. You will be made to undergo an oral cancer examination. The exam is pain-free and does not take much time.

During the exam, the doctor / dentist checks the face, neck, lips, tongue, mouth, and the back of the throat for the signs / unusual patterns listed earlier. This may or may not be cancer. The doctor will suggest treatment depending on the analysis.

How to treat oral cancer?

Oral cancer is treated the same way as many other cancers.

One option is surgery to remove the cancerous growth.

This may be followed up with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy (drug treatment) to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

A person who has any of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks should see a dentist or doctor for an oral cancer exam. Most often, symptoms like those listed above do not mean cancer. An infection or another problem can cause the same symptoms. But it's important to have the symptoms checked out—because if it is cancer, it can be treated more successfully if it's caught early.

What is the oral cancer exam?

An oral cancer examination can detect early signs of cancer. The exam is painless and takes only a few minutes.

During the exam, a dentist or doctor checks the face, neck, lips, tongue, mouth, and the back of the throat for possible signs of cancer.

Oral cancer is treated the same way many other cancers are treated -- with surgery to remove the cancerous growth, followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy (drug treatments) to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

Oral cancer ranks in the top three of all cancers in India, which accounts for over thirty per cent of all cancers reported in the country and oral cancer control is quickly becoming a global health priority. This paper provides a synopsis of the incidence of oral cancer in India by focusing on its measurement in cancer registries across the country. Based on the International Classification of Disease case definition adopted by the World Health Organisation, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, this review systematically examines primary and secondary data where the incidence or prevalence of oral cancer is known to be directly reported. Variability in age-adjusted incidence with crude incidence is projected to increase by 2030. Challenges focus on measurement of disease incidence and disease-specific risk behavior, predominantly, alcohol, and tobacco use. Future research should be aimed at improving quality of data for early detection and prevention of oral cancer.

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