Oral cancer, also known as cancer of the mouth, is a type of cancer that affects the mouth and surrounding areas, including the lips, tongue, and throat. It is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment.
The exact cause of oral cancer is not fully understood, but risk factors for the condition include tobacco use (including smoking and smokeless tobacco), heavy alcohol consumption, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, a diet low in fruits and vegetables, and a family history of oral cancer.
This article is explained by Dr. Sandeep Nayak, an oncologist from Masc for Cancer, one of the best hospitals for cancer treatment in Bangalore.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
Here are some common symptoms of oral cancer:
- Sore or growth in the mouth that does not heal
- White or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing or feeling like something is stuck in the throat
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the way your dentures fit
- Pain in the mouth or throat that does not go away
- Ear pain
- Loose teeth or dentures
- Swelling in the jaw
- Numbness in the mouth or on the tongue
It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other, less serious conditions. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor for further evaluation. Early detection and treatment of oral cancer can improve the chances of a successful outcome.
Treatment for oral cancer
Treatment for oral cancer will depend on the location and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health. Common treatment options for oral cancer include:
- Robotic surgery: There are several potential benefits to using robots in oral cancer surgery. One benefit is that robots can allow for more precise and less invasive surgery, which can result in faster recovery times and fewer complications. In addition, robots can be used to perform complex procedures that may be difficult for a human surgeon to perform manually.
- Radiation therapy: This involves using high-energy beams, such as x-rays, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be delivered externally (from a machine outside the body) or internally (using a device placed inside the body). External beam radiation therapy is the most common type of radiation therapy for oral cancer. It involves using a machine to deliver the radiation to the tumor from outside the body. This can be done in the hospital on an outpatient basis, and treatment sessions typically last about 15-30 minutes.
- Chemotherapy: This involves using drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be given orally (in pill form) or intravenously (through a vein).Chemotherapy is typically used in combination with other treatments for oral cancer, such as surgery and radiation therapy. It may be given before surgery to shrink the tumor, after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells, or in combination with radiation therapy.
- Targeted therapy: This involves using drugs that target specific abnormalities in cancer cells. Targeted therapies can be more effective and have fewer side effects than chemotherapy.Targeted therapies for oral cancer may include drugs that target specific proteins or pathways involved in cancer cell growth and survival
- Immunotherapy: This approach harnesses the power of the immune system to fight cancer. There are several different types of immunotherapies, including checkpoint inhibitors and CAR-T cell therapy.Immunotherapy is often used in combination with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. It is an emerging treatment option and is still being studied in clinical trials, so it may not be available at all cancer centers or for all types of cancer.
The specific treatment plan for oral cancer will depend on the individual patient and may involve a combination of these treatments. It’s important to work closely with your healthcare team to determine the best treatment plan for your specific situation.