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Oral Cancer
Written By : Dr. James Pendergraft 
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Oral cancer is generally described as cancer of head and neck. It can affect any part of the mouth like tongue, cheeks, lips, hard palate, soft palate, floor of the tongue, internal lining of the cheeks, gums, lymph nodes etc. the most common form of oral cancer is squamous cell carcinoma which affects the flat skin like lining of the mouth. 90% mouth cancer patients have been detected with this form of mouth cancer.

There are other types of oral cancers affecting different areas of the mouth like the salivary gland cancer affecting the saliva producing gland, lymphoma which is caused in lymph around the tonsils and base of tongue and melanoma affecting the skin pigmentation cells around the mouth and lips.


The causes of skin cancer are many and can't be restricted to anything in particular. Few major causes of oral tumor are smoking (cigarettes, pipe, hand rolled cigarettes like bidis or the one containing canabis) , alcohol, chewing of tobacco, beetlenut, gutka or pan, UV rays from sun which affects lips or pale skin and at times previous cancer which might reoccur. Other probable causes are poor dietary habits lacking essentially zinc, vitamin A, C, E, selenium .infection from HPV (human papilloma virus) which generally infects vulva, vagina and cervix.


The symptoms for oral cancer are very general which might sometimes turn out to be some other disease but nevertheless it is better to go to a dentist or a general physician or ENT specialist to rule out any possibility. The few visible symptoms are: white or red patch on the lips, inside of the mouth or around mouth which has been there for long , loose teeth, bleeding from mouth, soreness of lips and tongue, swelling in mouth, swelling in throat, ulcer of mouth and lips, a lump or thickening of lips mouth or tongue.


After mouth cancer has been established using X- Rays, MRI scan, endoscopy, CT scan and biopsy confirms the multiplicity of cells then the medical practitioner suggests treatment based on the physical stat and age of the patient, extent of infection and location of infection. Radiotherapy is commonly used method where radiation is used to destroy the cancerous cell in the affected area. At times surgery is performed to insert radioactive pellets in or around the tumor which gradually destroys the infected cells.

Surgery is another method used to remove the tumor from the infected area. It may be performed before or after radiotherapy. Chemotherapy is another treatment used for destroying cancerous cells. Anti cancerous drugs are used to shrink the tumor and later on surgery is performed to remove the infection. Time period of treatment and the strength of the medicine are dependent on the extent of infection.

Oral cancer is very common and can be avoided by taking care of ones lifestyle. Excessive intake of alcohol and cigarettes etc should be avoided. Chewing of tobacco should be strictly avoided and nutritious food should be incorporated in daily diet. After all health is wealth.

To Your Health!

Find out more about: cancer
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