Mouth Cancer Diagnosis
At the beginning mouth cancer can be completely asymptomatic, causing no pain or symptoms early in the disease. Only regular checkup by a dentist or doctor can help to detect it early. When detectingthe cancer early, the treatment is more effective.
Most oral cancers are diagnosed by examining the signs and symptoms experienced the patient:ulcers, wounds, abnormal swellings, and others. However, to confirm a mouth cancer diagnosis, the doctor often recommend several tests such as x-rays, laboratory analyzes ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). After these procedures confirm the presence of a tumor in the oral tissue, a biopsy (taking a small tissue sample to be observed microscope) will be performed to confirm the presence of cancer cells.
These tests are important to confirm the diagnosis and determine if the cancer has spread. Mouthcancer can spread to lymph nodes in the neck. Although rare, the tumor can also spread to the bones, liver and lungs.
Mouth Cancer Treatment
Mouth cancer treatment varies depending on the extent of the cancer and health status of the patient. The type of oral organ affected by the tumor can also play in determining the treatment. Radiotherapy (radiation therapy), surgery (surgical therapy) and chemotherapy, separately or in combination, are part of the conventional mouth cancer treatment.
Radiation therapy is, most of the times, the primary mode of treatment of mouth cancer after surgery. Radiotherapy is also used to relieve pain in patient with advanced cancer which can be difficult to be treated with surgical therapy.
Adverse reactions to this treatment vary depending on the surface irradiated. But most common side effects of mouth cancer radiation include:
- skin redness
- irritation of the mouth
- difficulty to open the mouth
- Radiation can also cause dry mouth, which can be permanent or lasting for years
- In addition, the radiation can affect the teeth and gum, leading to dental problems.
Surgery is another mouth cancer treatment option for tumors that are not too aggressive to be surgically removed. When the cancer is removed before it has spread to the lymph nodes, the cure rate is much better, and the surgery is less extensive. Surgery can also be performed to removelymph nodes and to rebuild parts of the mouth or face that were removed by the surgery (cancer resection surgery).
Common side effects after surgery for Oral Cancer include:
- Pain in the area of the surgery
- Rarely, difficulty breathing
- Numbness in your mouth or neck
- Difficulty swallowing, eating, or talking
- Occasionally, infection, bleeding, or oozing from the cut
- Shoulder weakness, which can occasionally occur after removal of lymph nodes from your neck.
Chemotherapy is typically reserved for advanced mouth cancers that have spread to local or distant organs in the body. It usually is combined with other treatments or therapies such as surgery and/orradiation.
Side effects that may be associated with the mouth cancer chemotherapy include:
- Hair loss
- Feeling sick (malaise)
- Decreased number of blood cells
- A sore mouth and mouth ulcers
- Feeling tired and run down
Mouth Cancer Prevention
Most mouth cancer cases can be prevented by not smoking or avoiding alcohol. Avoid prolonged or regular exposure to the sun can also reduce the risk of cancer of the lip.