Early Signs of Oral Cancer

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Early Signs of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer, often times called mouth cancer, doesn’t only occur in the oral cavity. The oral cavity is the region inside lining of the lips and cheeks that also include the lips. Oral Cancer can also occur in other areas of the mouth.

There is no exact cause of oral cancer, but neglect to ones hygiene and health will be contributing factors to cancer. Tobacco of any kind in the forms of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco and other variations increase the risk of oral cancer. According to the Mouth Cancer Foundation, about 90 percent of those with oral cancer consume tobacco. Other contributing factors include heavy use of alcohol and the risk is even higher if you combine drinking and smoking. Other factors that will aid to the development of oral cancer include age and eating habits. Most people who develop oral cancer get it around the age of 40 with a diet that is lacking the nutrition of fruits and vegetables.


Oral or Mouth Cancer can occur almost anywhere in the inner or outer portion of the mouth. This includes lips, tongue, throat, salivary glands, pharynx and larynx. Some signs and symptoms that one can look for when trying to identify early signs of oral cancer include the following:

  • Sores, swelling or lumps in or around your mouth or throat
  • Red or White lesions in your mouth or lip
  • Numbness or pain anywhere in your mouth
  • Pain in one of your ears without any loss of hearing
  • Loose teeth with no apparent cause
  • Lingering sore throat
  • The feeling of a lump or something obstructed in your throat
  • Trouble moving your jaw or tongue


How to identify before it’s too late

You can go to your local dentist and ask for an oral cancer examination. This is a fairly quick and painless test that detects the potential cancer in its early stages. The examination should include the standard checkup of your teeth and gums, but the dentist should be looking for other signs of oral cancer by examining ones lips, throat, tongue, neck and jaw. Not a lot of people take advantage of these screenings, but they should be done twice a year usually when you come in for a dental cleaning.

If a dentist suspects that oral cancer may develop due to signs and symptoms and biopsy is recommended to treat the area. If oral cancer is positively identified then surgery will be required followed by chemotherapy and radiation.

Ways To Treat Oral Cancer

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Ways To Treat Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a terrible condition that affects millions of people. Cells in the mouth will grow in unnatural ways can ultimately lead to death if untreated. The following methods are used to treat oral cancer.


Chemotherapy is one of the main treatment options for oral cancer. The cancerous cells in the body are destroyed using chemicals that stop them from growing. There are five categories of drugs that are used for chemotherapy purposes and they can either be delivered orally via a pill intravenously as a liquid or directly injected into muscle tissue. While chemotherapy can be quite effective at ridding the body of cancerous cells, it comes with the drawback of also negatively affecting regular cells. Symptoms like hair loss, nausea, fatigue, and intestinal problems are often present with chemotherapy.


Radiotherapy is also another treatment method for oral cancer. This treatment uses energy beams created from ionizing radiation with a machine. The energy destroys cells that have been targeted by breaking down their DNA and preventing growth. Normal cells are also affected by this treatment, but normal cells have the ability to repair themselves. This treatment is usually used when mouth cancer is detected in its early stages, although it can be used in later stages and combined with other treatments. In later stages, cancer symptoms may be alleviated by radiotherapy.

Targeted Drug Therapy

Targeted drugs therapy tackles the problem of oral cancer by altering the growth of cancer cells with specific drugs. The way this treatment differs from others is that it aims to kill the cancerous cells without destroying the surrounding healthy cells. The treatment works on a molecular level to accomplish this to block enzymes and influence the normal process of cell death. There are many clinical trials that are being used to develop drugs that will perfect this kind of treatment.


Surgery allows medical professionals to fight oral cancer by removing the cancerous portions of tissue from the body. Sometimes cancers may form tumorous masses or even spread to other parts of the body that will limit the ability of the body to fight infection. The surgeon will cut away tumors, and sometimes remove portions of the jaw or tongue if the tumor is large enough. If cancer has spread to the neck, the lymph nodes may need to be removed. Implants may need to be placed in the mouth to reconstruct it after surgery. This treatment is often used with others as well.
When detected early enough, treatments can get rid of oral cancer and help people live normal lives.

Oral Cancer Stages

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Oral Cancer Stages


Most dentist refer to the TNM System for determining oral cancer. This system was created by the American Joint Committee on Cancer. The first step in staging is to find the TNP


T tells how far the main tumor has spread to the surrounding tissue


N tells if the lymph nodes near the tumor have been infected with cancer or not


M tells if the cancer has spread or metastasized to other organs in the body

The stages of oral cancer

Stage 0 (carcinoma in situ). The cancer is only in the lining of the oral cavity where it first started. It has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or organs in other parts of the body.


Stage I.  The cancer is no more than 2 centimeters across. It has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or organs in other parts of the body.

Stage II. The cancer is between 2 cm and 4 cm across. It has not spread to nearby tissues, lymph nodes, or organs in other parts of the body.


Stage III. The cancer has not spread to organs in other parts of the body, and 1 of the following is true:

The cancer is more than 4 cm across.

The cancer is any size and has spread to 1 lymph node on the same side of the neck as the primary (first) tumor. The node is no more than 3 cm across and the cancer has not spread to the outside of it.


Stage IV. This stage is divided into 3 groups:


Stage IVA: The cancer is any size and has spread into nearby tissues, like the bones of the face or jaw, muscles deep in the tongue, the maxillary sinus (the sinuses in the cheeks on both sides of the nose), or the skin on the face. It has not spread to organs in other parts of the body


Stage IVB: The cancer is any size and may have spread into nearby tissues, like the bones of the face or jaw, muscles deep in the tongue, the maxillary sinus (the sinuses in the cheeks on both sides of the nose), or the skin on the face.. It has not spread to organs in other parts of the body



Stage IVC:  The cancer is any size and may have spread into nearby tissues. It may or may not have spread to nearby lymph nodes, but it has spread to organs in other parts of the body, such as the lungs.