Oral Cancer: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Oral Cancer: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

What is Oral cancer ?

Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissues and cells. Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally. Oral cancer causes and symptoms are a wide range of topic to discuss. Here, we mainly focus on causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments of oral cancers.

Oral Cancer is a malignant neoplasm which may occur in any part of the mouth including lips, tongue, floor of the mouth, buccal mucosa and palate. 90% of them are squamous cell carcinomas. They can grow and spread to the other parts of the body like neck & lungs by invasion and metastasis and even kill the person. Overall five year survival rate is around 65%. Survival depends on the stage of cancer. Prognosis decreases with the low socioeconomic state, advanced age and continuing risk behaviours. Therefore, it causes nearly 8000 deaths each year.

Lip and oral cavity cancers are the 17th most common cancers of the world. From all cases, 64% of new cases found from Asia in 2018. Close to 53,000 Americans diagnosed with oral cancer in 2019. It will cause over 9,750 deaths, killing roughly one person per hour, 24 hours per day, and it is the most common cancer in American males. So we all should be aware about this lousy health problem.

Causes of Oral Cancers

Non modifiable risk factors –

  • Age, Ethnicity, and Socioeconomic status

Modifiable risk factors –

Emerging risk factors –

  • Human papilloma virus, mate drinking, and Immune suppression.
  • Sunlight and thermal irritation are risk factors for lip cancers.
  • Tobacco is the most critical factor responsible for oral cancers. And also, tobacco cessation leads the fail in the risk of Oral Cancer. 
  • Cessation of risk factors and improve the nutrition of the population help in preventing Oral Cancer.

Symptoms of oral cancer

  • Non-healing chronic ulcer or lump of oral soft tissues – Most of these ulcers are painless and can be painful with time. And bleeding also can present.
  • Difficulty in chewing and swallowing, Sore throat, ear pain, difficulty in moving tongue or opening mouth, hoarseness, numbness of tongue or mouth, swelling of jaws can be possible warning signs for Oral Cancer.
  • Oral Potentiality Malignant Disorders(OPMDs) are a group of conditions which are having greater potential for developing oral cancers. Diagnosis in this stage will be beneficial to prevent them from converting to cancers. Some of them are Erythroplakia(reddish patch), Leukoplakia(white spot), Oral submucous fibrosis, Oral Lichen Planus and Chronic Erythematosus candidiasis. Therefore, Early detection is much advantageous to get a better prognosis.

Histopathological investigations help to confirm the clinical diagnosis

We all can detect abnormalities of our oral cavity by doing self mouth examination in front of a mirror both extraorally(lymph nodes, lips, face) & intraorally (Labial mucosa, buccal mucosa, gingiva, dorsum of the tongue, margins of the tongue, ventral surface of the tongue, floor of the mouth, hard palate, oropharynx)

Treatments available for Oral Cancers

  • Mainly surgical removal of the malignancy, Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy.
  • Always keep in your mind prevention of Oral Cancer is easier, safer and more cost-effective than treating to Oral Cancer.

Prevention methods for Oral Cancers

  • Stop using tobacco or don’t start. 
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure to your lips.




Article By,

Pasindu Chamikara – Microbiologist

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