Oral cancer has claimed several thousands of lives over the years. It includes the growth of cancerous cells in the soft tissues of the oral cavity, which would continue to increase in severity and grow if left untreated. Studies suggest that getting oral cancer screened and treated at earlier stages would reduce the fatality rate by several folds.
Oral cancer screening is a highly useful diagnostic procedure that allows the dentist to confirm the presence of cancer cells in the earlier stages itself. It is the only foolproof way of identifying the presence of cancer. This way, we can suggest the appropriate treatment to help get rid of it.
What are the causes of oral cancer?
We come across several patients who have developed oral cancer, and in most of them, the cause of the condition is the use of tobacco. Chewing tobacco or smoking cigarettes can lead to the entry of hundreds of carcinogens into the body. They mostly affect the soft tissues that they come in contact with and promote the growth of the cancer cells.
In some cases, excessive consumption of alcohol also causes oral cancer. Prolonged exposure of the oral cavity to the harmful UV radiation can damage the skin cells and the connective tissues underneath as well. The growth of cancerous cells can start from thereon.
How do you distinguish oral cancer from other infections?
Many patients ignore the signs of oral cancer and consider them to be just some other oral infection that would go away. But, despite taking medication, the signs wouldn’t get suppressed. In fact, they would be getting worse by the day and before you can know it, cancer could have advanced to a more severe stage. Some of the symptoms that you can look out for are:
- Infected soft tissues that look darker than the surrounding area.
- White blisters can form on the inner lining of the mouth. They would be quite painful and burn when something hot or spicy comes in contact.
- Sores that often ooze pus can form on the soft tissues. They may sometimes bleed and lead to inflammation and redness.
- Sometimes, a hard lump could form under the soft tissues that would pain when pressed.
- The gums could feel numb when you bite or chew food. You may also develop gum diseases.
- Pain while swallowing food.
How can oral cancer be screened and treated?
Getting oral cancer screened and treated at the earliest can yield better results. The more the treatment is delayed, the lesser the chances of completely eliminating the cancerous growth. As an initial means of detecting cancer, we use a CDx and VELscope to extract and examine the tissues. To examine the larynx and pharynx, we would use an intraoral camera. If the presence of cancer is confirmed, we can go ahead with the treatment.
When it comes to medication, the prominent one is chemotherapy. It helps to kill and prevent the growth of cancerous cells. As an advanced method, we may suggest radiation therapy to eliminate cancerous growth using high energy radiation. If the situation is worse, the cancer-affected tissues will have to be extracted by means of surgery.
Schedule an online appointment or call us at (650) 348-5424 to have a consultation with Dr. Dizik and we’ll be able to guide you further.