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Oral Cancer

Date: 2024-05-20

Overview

Oral cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in any part of the mouth or lips. Most oral cancers start in the lining of the lips or mouth in the thin, flat cells called squamous cells.

Symptoms for oral cancer include sores or lumps that appear on the lips or in the mouth. Sometimes white patches that cannot be rubbed off may form in the lining of the mouth.

Treatment for oral cancer may include surgery and radiation.

What puts you at risk for oral cancer?

Things that increase your risk for oral cancer include using tobacco and heavy alcohol use. Other risk factors are being male, using marijuana, and having HPV infection. For cancers of the lip, exposure over a long period of time to ultraviolet light from the sun or from tanning beds increases risk.

Some combinations of risk factors, such as using tobacco and drinking alcohol, increase the risk for oral cancer more than either risk factor alone. The same is true for using marijuana if you have high-risk HPV infection.

Types of Oral Cancer

More than 90% of all oral cavity tumors are squamous cell carcinomas. Squamous cells make up the lining of the oral cavity, also called the mucosa.

Other less common types of oral cancer include tumors of the salivary glands, including adenoid cystic carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and other salivary glands cancers.

Tests That Help Evaluate Oral Cancer

Your doctor will take a sample of cells from your mouth and perhaps your neck in a process called a biopsy in order to know that you have cancer. The biopsy may be done in the doctor’s office or at the hospital.

Your doctor may also request additional tests to learn more about your specific type of cancer and its location. These tests provide information that your health care team uses to help decide on the treatment that is likely to be most effective for you.

Here are some of the tests you may need to have:

  • Biopsy
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • PET scan
  • Barium swallow
  • Panorex films
  • Chest X-ray

Treatment Options for Oral Cancer

Doctors can treat oral cancer. Your treatment depends on each of these factors:

  • Type of oral cancer you have
  • Size and location of the main tumor
  • Whether the cancer cells have spread to other parts of your body, based on imaging and laboratory tests
  • Your general health
  • Your age

Oral cancer is often curable. Treatment can also help control oral cancer, meaning it may help control symptoms or reduce its spread. Once you know the type and stage of oral cancer you have, it’s time to decide on a treatment plan. This section will help you understand your treatment options and what’s best for you. Talking about your treatment choices will be one of the most important meetings that you’ll have with your doctor.

It may take some time to choose the best plan. Talk with your doctor about how much time you can take to explore your options before you must make a decision. You may want to get another opinion before deciding on treatments. You may want to talk with your family and friends.

Understanding the goals of treatment for oral cancer

Each treatment for oral cancer has these goals:

  • Remove or kill the cancer cells as quickly as possible
  • Kill any cells that may have spread
  • Control further spread of cancer cell

Types of treatment for oral cancer

There are several ways to treat oral cancer, including:

Chemotherapy

The use of anticancer drugs to shrink or kill cancerous cells and reduce cancer spreading to other parts of the body.

Radiation therapy

The use of high-energy radiation to kill or shrink cancer cells, tumors, and non-cancerous diseases.

Surgery

Most people with oral cancer have surgery first. There are several types of surgery. The kind you have depends on the location of the tumor. The goal is to take out the tumor. In some cases, this may cure the cancer. Depending on the location of the tumor, you may need reconstructive surgery as well as surgery to remove the tumor.

Your doctor may suggest that you get more than one type of treatment. Getting two or more treatment types is called combination treatment or combination modality treatment. Sometimes new treatments are available in a clinical trial. Ask your doctor about them. Some people use complementary therapies. That means they get standard cancer treatment, such as surgery, along with other supportive ones, such as yoga. You may want to talk about this option with your doctor.

view:30updated date:2024-06-26
view:30updated date:2024-06-26