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Mouth Cancer

Mouth cancer refers to cancer that develops in any parts that make up the mouth or oral cavity, i.e. lips, gums, tongue, the roof of the mouth, the inner lining of the cheeks, or under the tongue. The majority of cancers begin in the flat squamous cells that cover the surfaces of the mouth, lips, and tongue.

Causes of Mouth Cancer

  • Tobacco use
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Weak immune system
  • A sexually transmitted virus called HPV
  • Excessive sun exposure to lips

Symptoms of Mouth Cancer

  • White or red patch inside the mouth
  • Lump inside the mouth
  • Ear pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Mouth pain
  • Lip or mouth sore that doesn’t heal
  • Loose teeth

Prevention of Mouth Cancer

  • Quit the use of tobacco
  • Avoid drinking or drink in moderation
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure
  • Get regular dental checkups
  • Use lip balms with an SPF of a minimum of 30
  • Maintain a healthy diet

Diagnosis of Mouth Cancer

  • Physical exam – In this, your doctor or dentist would examine your lips and mouth to look for abnormalities like sores and white patches or areas of irritation
  • Biopsy – The doctor may remove a sample of cells to test in a lab. These cells are then analyzed for cancer or precancerous changes
  • Imaging Tests – CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans might be done to see whether cancer has spread beyond the mouth

Treatment of Mouth Cancer

  • Surgery – The surgeon might cut away the tumor and a small margin of healthy tissues around the cancer cells to ensure proper removal. Small tumors may be removed through minor surgeries whereas; larger tumors might require more extensive surgeries that might involve the removal of a section of your jawbone or the tongue. In cases where the tumor has spread to the neck, the surgeon may recommend the removal of lymph nodes and related tissues

After the surgery, the surgeon might recommend reconstructive surgery to rebuild the mouth and regain the ability to eat and talk more efficiently. The surgeon might transplant grafts of skin, muscle, or bone from other parts of the body to reconstruct the mouth. Some dental implants might be used as well to replace the natural teeth.

  • Radiation Therapy – Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation like X-rays and protons for killing the cancer cells or halting their growth. It is sometimes also used to reduce the symptoms of liver cancer that has spread to other areas of the body. It might be used in combination with other treatments
  • Chemotherapy – This treatment uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. It does this either by killing the cancer cells or by preventing their further division. It can be done either intravenously or orally. The drugs enter the bloodstream and reach the cancer cells across the body. Chemotherapy can increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy
  • Targeted Drug Therapy – This treatment uses drugs that are designed specifically to target the tumor cells. These drugs can be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy – It uses the body’s immune system to fight off cancer cells. Substances made in labs or by the body itself are used to boost and restore the body’s immune system and use as a defense against the cancer cells. It is generally recommended for people with an advanced stage of mouth cancer that does not respond well to other treatments