Cancer of the mouth is a common disease which usually affects people over 40, and affecting more men than women.
It is generally described as an uncontrolled growth of cells in the mouth, and when it is not identified early, it will form a large growth anywhere in the mouth called a tumor.
The symptoms of cancer of the mouth can be evident in areas such as:
- Under the tongue
- Roof of the mouth
- Insides of the lips
Symptoms include bad breath, loose teeth, unexplained bleeding, swelling in the jaw, red or white patches around the mouth, constant pain or soreness that doesn’t go away, or an ulcer in the mouth[mouth cancer].
If you recognize any of these symptoms of cancer of the mouth, you must go see a doctor right away for early detection and treatment.
Diagnosis for cancer of the mouth includes a mouth and throat examination and a biopsy. If the biopsy results show that what you have is cancer, other tests will be needed to conclude what stage the cancer of the mouth is.
These tests include a number of x-rays of the chest, back, Barium swallow, ultrasound/MRI/CT scans, and further biopsies of the lymph nodes around the body.
Although many lifestyle and environmental factors affect a person’s risk for other kinds of cancers, specific causes leading to cancer of the mouth have been shown to be:
- Smoking in any form – tobacco, cigarettes, cannabis, cigars, pipes, and hand-rolled cigarettes
- Chewing of tobacco
- Excessive drinking of alcohol, especially when done simultaneously with smoking
- Weakened immune system
- Prior cancer in the head or the neck
Given these factors, cancer of the mouth is not inevitable. Just make sure you don’t smoke or drink excessively, and eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day to increase the strength of your immune system. Visiting your dentist regularly will also be a big help for early detection of any cancer of the mouth symptoms.
Treatment options include surgery and non-surgical procedures, depending on the stage of the cancer when diagnosed. Surgery and laser treatment is an option provided in cases that the cancer has not spread out or affected too much tissue. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may also follow surgery to ensure that all cancer cells have been removed.
Other important things that you should know about cancer of the mouth are:
- Cancer of the mouth can also travel to remote body organs through the blood.
- Cancer of the throat and the mouth do not always metastasize, but when it does it will usually spread first to the lymph nodes located in the neck, which will swell as a symptom. From there, it may spread further to other parts of the body.
- The first thing you should do if you suspect you have it, or see any symptoms, is to see a doctor right away. Early detection will lead to better treatment and survival rates.