Oral CancerOral cancer can form in any part of the mouth or throat. Most oral cancers begin in the tongue and in the floor of the mouth. Anyone can get oral cancer, but the risk is higher if you are male, over age 40, use tobacco or alcohol or have a history of head or neck cancer. Frequent sun exposure is also a risk for lip cancer.
Symptoms of oral cancer include : -
- White or red patches in your mouth
- A mouth sore that won't heal
- Bleeding in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Problems or pain with swallowing
- A lump in your neck
- An earache
How is oral cancer diagnosed?
Your dentist will conduct an oral cancer screening exam, which is a routine part of a comprehensive dental examination. More specifically, your dentist will feel for any lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, face, and oral cavity. When examining your mouth, your dentist will look for any sores or discolored tissue, as well as check for or ask you about the signs and symptoms mentioned above.
Your dentist might perform an oral brush biopsy if he or she sees tissue in your mouth that looks suspicious. This test is painless and involves taking a small sample of the tissue and analyzing it for abnormal cells. Alternatively, if the tissue looks even more suspicious, your dentist might recommend a scalpel biopsy. This procedure usually requires local anesthesia and might be performed by your dentist or a specialist referred by your dentist. These tests are necessary to detect oral cancer early, before it has had a chance to progress and spread.
How is oral cancer treated?
Oral cancer is treated the same way many other cancers are treated; that is with surgery to remove the cancerous growth followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy (drug treatments) to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
About Tongue CancerTongue cancer is a common and serious type of head and neck cancer. The condition usually appears as squamous cells (a lump, white spot or ulcer) on the outer layer of the tongue. When identified early, tongue cancer is highly curable. Research studies show that people with a history of nicotine and alcohol dependence have a higher incidence of tongue cancer. More than 10,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with tongue cancer.
When cancer forms in the front two-thirds of the tongue, it is classified as a type of oral cavity cancer called oral tongue cancer. Cancer that develops in the remaining third of the tongue is called tongue base cancer and is considered a form of throat (oropharyngeal) cancer.
DiagnosisDiagnosis of tongue cancer begins with a thorough medical history review and physical exam. Your doctor may remove a small tissue sample (biopsy) of the potential cancer to send to the laboratory for analysis. Clinic pathologists experienced in identifying oral cancers will examine the tissue under a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present.
Your treatment team also may order one or more imaging tests (X-rays, CT scan, MRI scan or PET scan) to determine how far the tongue cancer has spread. Tests are scheduled quickly, in a coordinated manner, and results are often back the same day.
TreatmentTongue cancer treatment at Clinic depends on the patient's overall health, and type and stage of tongue cancer. Oral tongue cancer is typically treated with surgery, often followed by radiation therapy. Tongue base cancer is usually treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy (chemoradiation), sometimes followed by surgery.
For late stage tongue cancer and cancer that originates deeper in the tongue, the risks of traditional surgery may outweigh the benefits. If surgical tumor removal will significantly compromise speech and swallowing, radiation therapy or chemoradiation may be recommended. Specialists from several medical areas work together to develop the most appropriate treatment plan for each patient.
SurgeryEarly stage cancers of the tongue can often be removed directly through the mouth using a laser or cautery surgical instrument. If the tumor extends deeply into the underlying muscle, the surgeon may remove the nearby lymph nodes in the neck. For larger tumors, Clinic surgeons use the latest tumor removal techniques to minimize the loss of function of the tongue and surrounding structures.
Traditional tongue cancer tumor removal surgery involves splitting the jawbone and accessing the tumor via an incision in the neck (neck dissection). The surgery can disfigure the face, damage surrounding organs, and disrupt speech and swallowing function. It also involves a lengthy recovery and rehabilitation period.
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