Oral cancer is surprisingly common and has a high fatality rate. Only less than 50% of people diagnosed survive the first five years of diagnoses. Dentists regularly check for signs of oral cancer in their patients but it’s a good idea to request a thorough examination once a year. While research hasn’t proven that early diagnosis can help reduce the likelihood of fatality, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Oral cancer can come in different forms and affects different areas of your mouth. If you’re familiar with this disease and know how it can affect you, you’re more likely to spot early signs of it in yourself.
Types of Oral Cancer
There are many different types of cancer that can develop in your mouth and throat. You can determine which type of cancer you might have based on the symptoms. If you have any reason to suspect you might be developing oral cancer, we encourage you to visit your dentist and request a thorough examination.
1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Any abnormal growth and development in the squamous cells can potentially be cancer. The most unusual form of squamous cell carcinoma is verrucous carcinoma as it spreads to other parts of your body as well. It also tends to grow deeply in the mouth and surrounding tissues.
2. Salivary Gland Cancer
Salivary glands are present in all areas of your mouth and line the flesh on the inside of your cheeks and throat. It’s not uncommon for you to develop lumps and lesions in these areas and in most cases, they’re benign. You’ll develop a lump on the inside of your cheek if you accidentally bite into the flesh.
However, some lumps, ulcers, and lesions are not so benign and can be due to cancer. The most common form of cancer in the salivary glands is adenocarcinoma. You can also develop adenoid cystic tumor in the salivary glands.
Lymphoma is a cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. This tissue is present at the base of your tongue and around your tonsils. You also have a number of lymph nodes in the neck that can develop problems as well. The most common sign of lymphoma is a painless swelling of the lymph node.
A dentist will regularly check the nodes, tongue, and tonsils for any signs of lymphoma. If they find something, they recommend treatment based on the location of the cancer. You’ll need different treatments for lymphoma located in the mouth than the cancer located in oropharynx.
Melanoma develops in the cells that produce pigment and give your skin color. Melanoma usually happens in the head and neck, especially around the nose, mouth, and lips. It can be treated through radio therapy and surgery.
5. Other Oral Cancer Types
You can also develop cancer in your gums, tongue, throat, and jaw. If you spot any abnormal growth or lesion in your mouth, you should contact your dentist immediately.
How Can You Avoid Cancer?
Oral cancer can be avoided by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and following proper dental hygiene. You should avoid excessive smoking and consumption of alcohol, limit your exposure to the sun and always use sun protection on your lips, maintain a healthy and nutritious diet, and avoid smoking marijuana.
If you experience any abnormal pain, swelling, discoloration, and other such problems, visit your dentist today and get yourself examined.