CANCER
April 30th, 2021
3 mins read

Informative guide to oral cancer symptoms, warning signs, causes and treatment

India contributes a third of all oral cancer cases globally

Men over age 50 and tobacco users are at risk of developing oral cancer

Early diagnosis of oral cancer symptoms can lead to cure

Oral cancer is one of the most common types of cancers globally, and India contributes to almost 33% of all global oral cancer cases. The high number of oral cancer cases can be attributed to a lack of awareness, unhygienic oral habits, and tobacco and alcohol consumption. Annually, India reports approximately 77,000 oral cancer cases and 52,000 deaths due to oral cancer, making it a potent health risk to the country’s population.

While early diagnosis and treatment can cure oral cancer, making it less fatal, it can have lasting effects if left untreated. To help you increase your awareness of this condition, here is a brief overview of the symptoms, treatment, and preventive measures linked to oral cancer.

What is oral cancer?

Cancer causes a mutation in cells, making them multiply uncontrollably. These cells finally outgrow the number of healthy cells in the body and form a mass or lump called a tumor. Finally, they invade or metastasize, spreading to other healthy tissues or organs in the body.

In oral cancer, tumors and unexplained growth occur in mouthparts such as the tongue, lips, cheeks, sinuses, the base of the mouth, the pharynx, and the hard and soft palate.

Oral cancer symptoms

Early diagnosis and treatment of the condition can provide complete relief from oral cancer. Therefore, if you notice or experience any of the following oral cancer symptoms, rush to your doctor or dentist for immediate medical diagnosis and treatment.

  • Development of patches that are white and red in colour and feel like soft velvet inside and on the mouth
  • Unexplained presence or occurrence of bumps, lumps, swellings, crusts, and rough spots on the lips, inside the mouth and gums that do not heal
  • Sudden bleeding from the mouth
  • Trouble or pain while drinking and swallowing
  • Sudden loose teeth
  • The feeling of having a lump in your throat at all times
  • A sudden earache that won’t subside
  • Unexplained and sudden weight loss
  • Sudden hoarseness or change in voice
  • Difficulty wearing dentures
  • Chronic sore throat, stiffness, or pain in the jaw and tongue

Some of these symptoms can also be signs of other illnesses and conditions; therefore, there is no need to panic. However, if you experience these symptoms for long with no sign of healing, contact your dentist or family doctor at the earliest.

oral cancer symptoms

Oral cancer causes and risk factors

As per research, men are twice more likely to develop oral cancer than women, especially men over the age of 50. Furthermore, compared to the West, more than 70% of oral cancer cases in India are diagnosed in the advanced stages. Therefore, it is important to take every measure possible to prevent any type of oral cancer. To this effect, here are some of the causes and risk factors of oral cancer.

  • Smoking tobacco, cigar, cigarettes can increase the risk of oral cancer by six times
  • Individuals that use/ chew smokeless tobacco products have a 50 times greater chance of developing oral cancer
  • Alcohol consumption, especially in conjunction with tobacco, increases oral cancer risk
  • A family history of oral cancer can increase your likelihood of contracting oral cancer
  • Overexposure to the sun and strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) can also cause different oral cancers

Diagnosis of oral cancer

On spotting any signs and symptoms of oral cancer, the doctor or dentist will first conduct a thorough physical examination of the mouth to ensure that it is not caused by any other health condition. Once this is eliminated, the doctor may choose to conduct a biopsy. In this procedure, a part of the infected tissue is removed and examined under a microscope. The doctor may either opt for brush or tissue biopsy. Brush biopsy involves brushing cells from the infected tissues onto a slide, while tissue biopsy warrants removing a small, infected piece of the tissue for further examination.

Additionally, for further clarity, the doctor can administer the following diagnostic tests.

CT scan

To check for the presence of cancerous tumours in the throat, mouth, lungs and neck

X-rays

To detect the presence of cancer in the chest, jaw, and lungs

Endoscopy

This is done to detect the presence of cancerous tumours in the throat, nasal passage, windpipe, and trachea

MRI scan

This is done to assess the stage of the cancer and detect the clear presence of the cancer in the neck and head

PET scan

This diagnostic test is done to check how far cancer has spread to other organs and the lymph nodes

Using these tests, the doctor determines the presence of cancers, evaluates its stage and spread, and decides an appropriate treatment plan.

Oral cancer treatment

The treatment plan for oral cancer differs as per the location and cancer stage. Read on to know more about oral cancer treatment options.

Surgery

If oral cancer is diagnosed early, then surgery is the quickest and easiest treatment option. Here, infected, cancerous tissues are surgically removed to stop them from metastasizing further. Furthermore, as a precaution, surrounding tissues can be removed as well

Chemotherapy

This oral cancer treatment involves using drugs administered orally or via an intravenous line (IV) to kill cancer cells

Radiation therapy

Here, a high-energy beam is used to kill cancer cells by simply aiming it at the affected area. A combination of both chemo and radiation therapy is used to treat patients with advanced-stage oral cancer

Targeted therapy

This is a relatively new treatment option, still undergoing clinical trials. Here, the administered drugs bind with the cancerous cells and tissues and hinder their growth and spread

While oral cancer is not as fatal as other types of cancers and is completely curable if diagnosed early. Oral cancer treatment can have long-lasting effects on a person’s overall health and lifestyle. Therefore, you must take every precaution possible to prevent oral cancer. Some basic precautions to prevent oral cancer include not smoking, drinking, or using tobacco and tobacco products. Likewise, take precautions while venturing out in the sun and maintain a healthy lifestyle by having a balanced diet and exercising regularly. Additionally, visit your dentist regularly to be on top of your oral health.

To find a dentist with ease as well as to get treatment for oral cancer, use the Bajaj Finserv Health app. This digital tool helps you find the right specialists in seconds using filters related to your preferred area, consult timings and more. You can also get access to health plans and health cards here that offer you deals and discounts at reputed partner clinics to make healthcare more affordable. To explore all this and more, download the app for free today!

Related Articles

View All

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Why it is Significant and What You Can Do

Cancer

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Why it is Significant and What You Can Do

3 mins

Blood Cancer Awareness Month: When and How is it Observed?

Cancer

Blood Cancer Awareness Month: When and How is it Observed?

3 mins

How to Deal with Chemo Side Effects? Important Tips to Follow

Cancer

How to Deal with Chemo Side Effects? Important Tips to Follow

3 mins

Important Things to Know About Your Lungs This World Lung Cancer Day

Cancer

Important Things to Know About Your Lungs This World Lung Cancer Day

3 mins

What Is Lung Cancer? All You Need To Know About Its Symptoms and Treatment

Cancer

What Is Lung Cancer? All You Need To Know About Its Symptoms and Treatment

3 mins

Trending Articles

View All

Do Health Insurance Companies Offer Mental Health Coverage? What is its Importance?

Aarogya Care

Do Health Insurance Companies Offer Mental Health Coverage? What is its Importance?

3 mins

Do You Know That Your Body’s Natural Killer Cells Protect You? Here’s How

Immunity

Do You Know That Your Body’s Natural Killer Cells Protect You? Here’s How

3 mins

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Why it is Significant and What You Can Do

Cancer

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month: Why it is Significant and What You Can Do

3 mins

6 Delicious Non-dairy Milks to Include in Your Diet for Good Health!

Nutrition

6 Delicious Non-dairy Milks to Include in Your Diet for Good Health!

3 mins

7 Best Drinks to Lower Blood Pressure: What You Need to Know

Hypertension

7 Best Drinks to Lower Blood Pressure: What You Need to Know

3 mins