Oral cancer is the cancer in or around the mouth. Some of these are cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, mouth, sinuses, and throat. These can turn out to be life threatening if they’re not diagnosed and treated early. Dr. Pramod Kumar Julka, Senior Director - Oncology Daycare Centre, Max Institute of Cancer Care-Lajpat Nagar, discusses the symptoms, causes, and treatments of oral cancer.
What causes Oral Cancer?
There are several factors that can drastically increase your risk of mouth cancer. Tobacco is the first and foremost among these. Whether it’s in the form of a cigarette, beedi, gutka, or snuff, tobacco causes severe and irreparable damage to your mouth and neighbouring regions.
What are the symptoms of oral cancer?
The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Bumps or rough spots on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth.
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
What are the treatment options available?
There are many different treatment options for oral cancer. The kind of treatment that your doctor will prescribe depends on many factors, including where the cancer is located and how far it has progressed. If oral cancer is diagnosed early on, the treatment that is recommended is normally designed to cure cancer. In later stages, however, the goal of any treatment will be to control and prevent further growth of the tumour. The three most common treatments available are:
- Radiotherapy: attempting to kill the cancer cells using high-energy beams of radiation.
- Surgery: the removal of cancer and a portion of the surrounding tissue.
- Chemotherapy: attempting to use medicines to kill cancer cells and prevent them from growing back.
If you have exhibited some of the symptoms above for more than two weeks, you should visit a doctor for an oral exam. A lot of the time these symptoms don’t necessarily indicate oral cancer. However, it’s important to have these checked to ensure that if you do have oral cancer, you get an early and accurate diagnosis. A timely diagnosis can go a long way in controlling the damage and defeating the cancer.