Oral cancer is the type of cancer that develops, as the name suggests, inside of your mouth tissues or throat tissues. It is a part of a larger group of cancers that affect the head and neck. Most people develop oral cancer on the tongue, lips, or mouth and it is typically detected after it has spread. As such, early detection is key to survival. It is your dentist who will typically recognize the initial signs of mouth cancer, and after they recognize the symptoms, they will work with you to find the right treatment.
There are many symptoms, but you might start to notice a sore on your lips or your mouth which never get better. You can start losing teeth, notice significant bleeding from your gums or your mouth, have a mass that is cultivating on the inside of your mouth, or face numbness in your lower lip or chin area.
Alternatively, you could have an earache that simply won’t go away, have difficulty wearing dentures, or have difficulty swallowing. If you notice a collection of the symptoms that do not go away after one or two weeks, it is important that you talk to your Spokane Dentist as soon as possible. You can get help before things get worse by visiting your qualified dentist.
There are many causes, but the biggest one is tobacco use. This includes chewing tobacco, pipes, smoking cigarettes, and smoking cigars. People who consume heavy amounts of the hauler tobacco put themselves at a higher risk. If both are used on a regular basis, this risk is increased substantially. Other causes include family history, previous diagnosis, regular exposure to sunlight, HPV infection, and being male.
After you have booked your appointment with your dentist, they will look closely at the inside of your mouth and examine your lymph nodes, your tongue, and your cheeks. If they find a growth or tumor, they will send you to a doctor to perform a biopsy. This biopsy simply takes a small piece of the tissue from the growth and looks at it under a microscope for cancer cells.
Additionally, your doctor could order an x-ray to see where the cancer cells have spread. They might order a CT scan to find tumors in your mouth or neck. They could also use an MRI to look at the development of your cancer. If they need to look at your inner throat or your sinuses, they might order an endoscopy treatment.
There are four different stages of oral cancer. Stage I and II are where you have a smaller tumor, and your cancer cells have yet to spread to the lymph nodes. Once you reach stage III or IV, your risk becomes significantly higher, and your rate of survival become significantly lower if you remain undiagnosed. Naturally, the sooner you talk to your dentist to get an early diagnosis, the higher the chances of survival after treatment.
What options you have at your disposal for treatment is contingent upon the cancer type, stage of your diagnosis, and location of cancer. In the earlier stages, doctors can remove the tumor and any cancerous lymph nodes. Radiation therapy is another option. Chemotherapy can kill the cancer cells inside of your body and is an outpatient option. Targeted therapy will use special drugs for earlier stages of cancer to stop them from growing. Obviously, your doctor and dentist will work together to help you determine which treatment is best for your situation.
The most important thing is to understand the nutrition plays a vital role in cancer treatment for your mouth. Many of these treatments can make it difficult to eat or swallow an impact your appetite. Healthy eating is not only important for your prevention but in your recovery. Talk to your dentist today to learn more.
If you have questions, if you found something suspicious or you just want to know how to be on the lookout, a Spokane Dentist can help you look over guides, learn better oral care practices, and fix any oral problems you might have right now before they get worse.