Cancer of the mouth and throat will involve the oral cavity and the upper part of the throat.Both of these function in breathing, talking, chewing and swallowing.
Important structures include the lips, the inside lining of the cheeks, teeth, gums, tongue, floor of the mouth, back of the throat and roof of the mouth.
Each area has a different function and has many different types of cells that develop into these structures. Cancer will happen when normal cells undergo a transformation and multiply without normal controls.
The two most likely kinds of pre-malignant lesions in the mouth are called leukoplakia and erythroplakia. Leukoplakia is a white area that can often be scraped off and will usually become cancerous within 10 years if not treated. Erythroplakia is a raised red area and if scraped will bleed. It is more severe than leukoplakia and has a higher chance of becoming cancerous over time. Both of these areas are often found by a dentist during routine dental examinations.
The main causes of oral cancer include tobacco-90% of people with oral cancer use tobacco-and alcohol use. Risk factors will include smoking, diet, family history and a previous personal history of oral cancer. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation, chronic irritation to the inner lining of the mouth, lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet and alcohol containing mouthwash will also increase the risk of developing oral cancer.
Different types of malignant cancers that happen in the mouth include the squamous cell carcinoma which accounts for 90% of cancers in the lining of the mouth and pharynx. Other less common cancers include the salivary glands and lymphoma. Approximately 27000 new cases will be diagnosed each year and approximately 7000 people will die from oral cancer during the same period of time.
One of the symptoms of oral cancer has already been described-patches inside the mouth that are either white or red. Individuals may also suffer from a sore on the lift or mouth that doesn’t appear to heal. An individual may believe that it started off as a cold sore but it doesn’t take the same route as a cold sore. While a cold sore may heal within a week or so, these sores on the lips or mouth don’t heal.
Other symptoms of cancer in the mouth will include bleeding in the mouth, loose teeth, difficulty or pain when swallowing, difficulty wearing dentures, an earache that doesn’t go away and a lump in the neck. If you suffer from the symptoms you should see a doctor or a dentist immediately so that early diagnosis and treatments can be instituted. Although all of these symptoms do not always mean cancer, and can mean an infection or another problem, it is the best to initiate early diagnosis and treatment in order to improve the probability of a good outcome.
Oral cancers will be suspected because of their appearance but doctors must distinguish this between oral cancer and changes in the normal pigmentation from other causes. Only a biopsy, removal of the pieces of tissue for examination under a microscope, can fully determine whether a suspicious area is cancerous or not.
It is important to receive diligent and routine examinations of the mouth as the best strategy for finding precancerous and non-cut cancerous growths. Regular cleanings every six months will achieve both this routine examination as well as cleaning and decreasing irritation to the inner lining of the mouth by smoothing rough edges from broken teeth or fillings.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America: Oral Cancer Symptoms and Signs
national Institute of Denal and Craniofacial Research: Oral Cancer: Causes and Symptoms
Cleveland Clinic: Oral Cancer
MD Anderson Cancer Center: Oral Cancer Symptoms
National Cancer Insitute: What you Need to Know About Oral Cancer
Lehigh Valley Health Network: Symptoms Oral Cancer
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: Oral Cancer