As suggested by the name, cancerous formation affecting the oral cavity is known as oral cancer. It is one of the offshoots of the cancer type affecting the upper region of the aero - digestive tract.

Originates in the form of a lesion: The cancerous lesion strikes its root in the tissues of the oral cavity.

Different cellular varieties of oral cancer: According to the anatomical structure of the cancerous lesion, oral cancer has been subdivided into various categories.

  • Adenocarcenoma - affecting the salivary gland
  • Lymphoma - affecting the tissues of the tonsil or those involving the lymphatic system.
  • Melanoma - which may affect the mucous tissues of the oral cavity.

The most common type of Oral cancer

'Squamous cell carcinoma' is the most common type of oral cancer. In fact, oral cancer is almost synonymous to 'squamous cell carcinoma', which tends to strike the flat squamous cells padding the different parts of the oropharynx.

Origin of Oral cancer

The following parts in the oral cavity can be the likely targets of this cancer type
  • Tongue
  • The oral floor
  • Lining of the mouth
  • Gums
  • Oral roof/palate
  • Lips

Causes of oral cancer

  • Use of tobacco in different forms is one of the most familiar antecedents of oral cancer. Whether it is chewed, or enjoyed in its smoky feel tobacco and its various accessories adds most to the risk element of oral cancer.

  • Alcohol users are likely to fall into the risky bracket as well. The element of risk obviously increases for those with smoking as well as boozing.

  • Prolonged exposure to the damaging bouts of sun's ultraviolet rays also adds to the risk of lip cancer.

Symptoms of oral cancer

The following are few of the symptoms of oral cancer:

Patches of different types

With oral cancer one tends to have patches inside the oral cavity. These patchy formations may be of different shades. They can be either white, pinkish white, simply red or a blend of white with reddish white.

White patches which are more frequent may or may not prove to be malignant in nature. But patches of the mixed in shades of white and red are more likely to take on cancerous formation than those which are purely white.

Sore in the oral cavity

Usually sores which aren't ready to heal give the likely inkling of a malignant development. Sore of the non-healing type may be noticeable either on the lips or inside the cavity.

Bleeding

Unaccountable and unexplainable stints of bleeding also feature amongst the probable symptoms of oral cancer. Usually, a sore tending to take on a cancerous formation is likely to bleed.

Lump like feel and pain

The feeling is likely to be more prominent around the regions of the neck. This in turn can give way to swallowing difficulty. Swallowing food can prove to be pretty painful. Pain gripping the oral cavity is another likely symptom of oral cancer. With the gradual metastasis of this cancer type, pain can grip the ear as well.

Regular oral/dental checkups - can be useful

Apart from helping folks out with respect of oral hygiene, regular visits to dentists can help one rule out the possibilities of oral cancer. On the flip side, inkling of any such signs and symptoms can be detected at the earliest.

Biopsy is carried out to prove the existence of a cancerous condition. The area/tissues suspected of abnormality are partially removed for the purpose of biopsy.

Treatment of oral cancer

Begins according to the phase of metastasis

For the purpose of treatment of oral cancer, steps are taken to find out the range and extent of the malignant formation. Endoscopies and X-rays are carried out to determine the stage of spreading and areas affected by oral cancer.

The traditional modes of treatment

It generally includes the appropriate use of chemo/radiotherapy. Most oral cancers are treated with the combined spell of both. An antibody has been found to be quite effective.

Recent researches point to the curative power of an antibody extracted from biological sources. The antibody by the name of 'Cetuxibumb' is likely to play influential role in the treatment of oral cancer.

Surgical interference

Attempts at surgery are pretty common in the treatment of oral cancer. Small lesions of the malignant types are usually got rid of by surgery. In fact, surgical procedures are worked upon for the partial/complete removal of the parts affected in and around the oral cavity.

Surgical deals in oral cancer is also oriented towards reconstruction

According to the metastasis of the cancer type, partial or complete removal of oral parts including tongue, larynx /upper part of the esophagus may become necessary. This in turn gives rise to the need for reconstruction.

Maintenance of oral hygiene during treatment

Maintenance of oral hygiene is of paramount importance in course of the treatment. Treatment regimen of chemotherapy may lead to oral dryness. Chewing of sugarless candies/gums can help overcome such dryness.

It is important to use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Brushing after every meal needs to be insisted upon. Avoiding spicy food and those hard in texture is as important as avoiding sugary food items.