Mahesh Memorial Trust

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer starts in the mouth and affects the oral cavity. This includes the lips, the inside lining of the lips and cheeks, the teeth, the gums, the front two-thirds of the tongue, the floor of the mouth below the tongue, the hard palate and the area behind the wisdom teeth.
Sore in the mouth that does not heal (most common symptom)
Non healing ulcer or growth anywhere in the mouth, which bleeds on touch and is relatively painless
White or reddish-white patches in the oral cavity.
Pain in swallowing
Difficulty in moving the jaw or tongue
A lump or thickening in the cheek
Evaluation of medical history
Complete head and neck exam
Biopsy - Examining cells or tissues from the suspected lesion under a microscope
Staging in Oral Cancer
Stage I - The cancer is no more than 2 centimeters (about 1 inch) and has not spread to lymph nodes in the area (lymph nodes are small bean-shaped structures that are found throughout the body; they produce and store infection-fighting cells).
Stage II - The cancer is more than 2 centimeters, but less than 4 centimeters (less than 2 inches), and has not spread to lymph nodes in the area.
Stage III - The cancer is more than 4 centimeters or the cancer is any size but has spread to only one lymph node on the same side of the neck as the cancer. The lymph node that contains cancer measures no more than 3 centimeters (just over one inch).
Stage IV - The cancer may have spread to tissues around the lip and oral cavity. The lymph nodes in the area may or may not contain cancer or the cancer is any size and has spread to more than one lymph node on the same side of the neck as the cancer, to lymph nodes on one or both sides of the neck, or to any lymph node that measures more than 6 centimeters (over 2 inches) or the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Recurrent - Recurrent disease means that the cancer has come back (recurred) after it has been treated. It may come back in the lip and oral cavity or in another part of the body.
Side Effects of the Treatment
Surgery to remove part of the palate or the tongue or the jaw will affect the patient's ability to chew, swallow, talk and the patient will look different cosmetically
Temporary swelling
Radiation therapy makes the mouth sore and also causes difficulty in swallowing saliva and makes it difficult for the patient to masticate.
Extreme fatigue
Dry, reddened skin and loss of appendages of the skin such as hair from the area radiated.
Decrease in the white blood cell count that has got an immuno-protective effect against infections.
Infections, skin rashes, loss of hair, diarrhea and vomiting.
Tingling and numbness in the fingers and toes.
Hearing loss.
Risk Factors:
Tobacco: 90 % of patients with oral cavity cancer use tobacco.
Alcohol: Alcohol consumption strongly increases the risk of oral cavity cancer.
Irritation: Long-term irritation to the lining of the mouth is a risk factor for oral cancer.
Vitamin Deficiency: Vitamin A deficiency is associated with cancer of the oral cavity