Mouth cancer is a type of cancer that affects the mouth, also known as the mouth and throat. It is the most common cancer in the world, and is the third most common type of cancer in the world after breast and lung cancer, according to American Cancer Society.
The oral cavity is made up of the:
- Floor of the mouth
- Floor of the nose
- Roof of the mouth
- Hard and soft tissues
These soft tissues can move, making it difficult to eat, talk, and swallow properly.
There are two main types of mouth cancer:
- Laryngeal cancer
- Hypopharyngeal cancer
Laryngeal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the larynx, the organ located in the neck. Laryngeal cancer is the most common cancer in the world, according to the American Cancer Society.
The most common type of laryngeal cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which is a type of cell that forms the lining of the vocal cords.
Hypopharyngeal cancer, or oropharyngeal cancer, is a type of head and neck cancer that develops in the throat. It is also the second most common cancer in the world, behind laryngeal cancer.
Mouth cancer can develop in any part of the mouth, including the lips, the gums, the tongue, and the floor of the mouth.
Symptoms of mouth cancer
Common symptoms of mouth cancer include:
- A persistent sore in the mouth, especially on the tongue or the floor of the mouth
- A lump in the mouth
- A white or red patch in the mouth
- A sore throat
- A hoarse voice
- Difficulty breathing
- A persistent cough
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of taste or the inability to taste
- Difficulty opening the mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Causes of mouth cancer
The exact cause of mouth cancer is unknown. However, there are certain risk factors that may increase your chances of getting this cancer.
Risk factors for mouth cancer include:
- Smoking tobacco
- Drinking alcohol excessively
- Having a weakened immune system
- Having a chronic condition, such as diabetes
- Having a compromised immune system
Diagnosing mouth cancer
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of mouth cancer, your doctor will perform a thorough examination of your mouth.
If you have laryngeal cancer, your doctor will also use an endoscope to examine the larynx.
Your doctor may also order a biopsy of the tissue if they suspect you are having mouth cancer. They will send the tissue sample to a pathologist for testing.
Treating mouth cancer
Treatment for mouth cancer depends on the location of the cancer, its severity, and your overall health.
If you have oral cancer, your doctor will likely recommend surgery to remove the cancerous tissue.
Some people may opt for radiation therapy, which uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. This can be used to treat squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth.
Your doctor will also recommend surgery to remove any remaining cancerous tissues if they are too far away from the mouth.
Mouth cancer can also be treated with chemotherapy. This type of treatment uses drugs to kill cancer cells.
Your doctor will recommend the treatment that best fits your needs, based on your overall health and the severity of your condition.
Mouth cancer may be fatal if it is not treated.
Preventing mouth cancer
You can reduce your risk of developing mouth cancer by:
- Avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke
- Drinking alcohol in moderation
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting regular dental checkups
Outlook for mouth cancer
Most mouth cancer is treatable, and the outlook is good for most people who are diagnosed with this cancer.
In general, the outlook for people with mouth cancer depends on whether it is early or late-stage.
Early-stage mouth cancer is more likely to be treatable. The outlook is also better for people who are diagnosed at an early stage.
People who are diagnosed with late-stage mouth cancer may need more extensive treatment.
Early detection and treatment of mouth cancer can increase the chances of a good outcome.
Prevention is also key.
If you have a weakened immune system, you should work with your doctor to schedule regular dental checkups.
You can also avoid smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol in moderation.
You should also avoid your mouth, especially if you have a weakened immune system.
How to reduce your risk of developing mouth cancer?
It is possible to reduce your risk of developing mouth cancer, but it is not always easy.
To prevent mouth cancer, you should:
Your doctor or dentist can help you determine the best course of action for your condition. If you experience any of the symptoms of mouth cancer, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
When to contact a doctor?
The symptoms of mouth cancer can be similar to those of other conditions, such as oral thrush, so you should contact your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- A mouth sore that does not go away
- A persistent sore on the tongue, lips, or mouth
- Pain in your mouth or jaw that is severe
- Swelling in your face, lips, tongue, or mouth
- Difficulty moving your jaw or chewing
Risk factors for mouth cancer
The risk factors for mouth cancer are similar to those for most types of cancer.
These risk factors include:
- A weakened immune system
- Being older than 50 years of age
Now over to you
If you are concerned about developing mouth cancer, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible
You can reduce your risk of mouth cancer by avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke, drinking alcohol in moderation, eating a healthy diet, getting regular dental checkups, and avoiding your mouth, especially if you have a weakened immune system.
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