Oral Cancer: The Importance of Early Detection

by Akhil Reddy content writter

Oral Cancer: The Importance of Early Detection


Oral cancer has become a global problem worldwide and more so in countries including India, Srilanka, Pakistan, Taiwan, etc. Globally around 6 lakh cases of oral cancer occur each year accounting for around 3 lakh oral cancer deaths. More than 90% of the occurring oral cancer cases in squamous cell carcinoma. Oral cancer is otherwise also known as mouth cancer. It is cancer that involves the lining of the lips, mouth and oral region.


There are no identified causes of oral cancer.  Risk factors that increase the occurrence of this condition include

·         Smoking

·         Alcohol abuse

·         Betel quid chewing

·         H/0 of head and neck radiotherapy

·         Familial h/o of cancer

·         Long term immunosuppressive therapy

·         Patients who underwent organ transplantation

Signs and symptoms of oral cancer

This cancer begins as a painless patch that furthers thickens and grows into an ulcer.

The presenting features of this cancer can further be subdivided into early and late signs.

Early signs include

·         Persistent red or white patch within the oral region

·         Raised swelling or enlargement

·         Mobility of the teeth

·         Bleeding from the affected site

·         Hoarseness of voice

·         Epistaxis

·         Mouth ulcers or sores that don’t heal

Late signs

·         Advanced stages of oral cancer present as an

·         Indurated area

·         Numbness of the tongue or lips

·         Airway obstruction

·         Earache

·         Difficulty swallowing

·         Restricted mouth opening

·         Referred pain (ear, jaw, head region)

Disease progression

Oral cancer primarily spreads through the local route and lymphatic system. The extent of spread depends on

·         Affected site

·         Aggressiveness of the tumor

·         Immunity of the individual

Survival rate

The 5-year survival rate of individuals with oral cancer is 50%. That is 50% of the individuals with this condition will survive for less than 5 years.

Screening (Early Detection)

Screening for oral cancer includes eliciting the history of the individuals followed by a thorough physical examination

The dentist would examine the oral and pharyngeal regions (lips, hard palate, soft palate, labial & lingual mucosa, tongue and corners of the mouth).

Apart from this health care professionals need to also teach patients the technique of self-examination. This includes an intermittent self-check of the oral region. In case they notice any minor changes such as red patches, swelling, pain, bleeding, etc they should be educated to bring it to the notice of the dentist at the earliest.

Early detection of oral cancer by screening will result in

·         Enhanced survival rate

·         Improved quality of life

·         Lesser aggressive treatment


Treatment of this cancer depends on the location of cancer, overall health of the individual and his personal preference

Surgical management is the mainstay of treatment. The doctor may remove the tumour along with a margin of the healthy tissue

Other therapies which can be done adjunctively include

Radiation therapy

Oral cancers are sensitive to radiation therapy. The treatment involves the use of high energy X rays to destroy the DNA inside the tumour cells. However, this therapy does have its side effects. This includes

·         Decay of the tooth

·         Mouth sores

·         Bleeding gums

·         Fatigue


In cases of widespread oral cancers, the physician would combine chemotherapy with radiation therapy. Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs that destroy the ability of cancer cells to multiply and reproduce. However, chemotherapy just doesn’t damage the cancerous cells but also the normal cells of the body.

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About Akhil Reddy Innovator   content writter

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Joined APSense since, January 7th, 2020, From hyderabad, India.

Created on Jan 7th 2020 06:03. Viewed 511 times.


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