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Oral cancer

Oral cancer is part of cancers called head and neck cancers.  Oral cancer can develop in any part of the oral, cavity.  Most oral cancers began in the cheek tongue and in the floor of the mouth.  Almost all oral cancers begin in the squacuces cells that cover the surfaces of the mouth tongue, and lips.  These cancers are called squacuous cell carcinomas.

When oral cancers spreads (metasizes), it usually travels through the lymphatics system. Cancer cells that enter the lymphatic system are carried along by lymph, a clear watery fluid.  The cancer cells appear first in nearby lymphnodes in the neck. Research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop oral cancer.  A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of developing a disease. Smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes, using chewing tobacco and dipping snuff are all linked to oral cancer.

People who drink alcohol are more likely to develop oral cancer than people who do not drink. Cancer of the lip can be caused by exposure to the sun using a lotion or lip balm that has a sunscreen can reduce the risk. Wearing a hat with a brim can also block the sun harmful rays. Oral cancer treatment may include surgery radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Some patients have a combination of treatments.   Surgery to remove the tumor in the mouth or throat is common treatment for oral cancer.  Patient may have surgery alone or in combination with radiation therapy.

Radiotherapy is a type of local therapy.  It affects cells only in the treated area. Radiation therapy is used alone for small tumors or for patients who cannot have surgery.  It may be used before surgery to kill cancer cells and shrink the tumor.  It also may be used after surgery to destroy cancer cells that may remain in the area. Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells.  It is called systemic therapy because it enters that bloodstream and can affect cancer cells throughout the body.  Chemotherapy usually is given by injection.  It may be given in an outpatient part of the hospital at the doctor’s office, or at home.   Sometimes, a hospital stay may be needed.  A regular check-up is by a dentist or a doctor to check entire mouth is very good for early deduction. Regular checkups can detect the early stages of oral cancer or conditions that may lead to oral cancer.  Similarly follow-up care after treatment for oral cancer is also very important.  Even when the cancer seems to have been completely removed or destroyed, the disease sometimes returns because undetected cancer cells remained in the body after treatment.

The doctor monitors your recovery and cheeks for recurrence of cancer checkups help to ensure that any changes in your health are noted. The doctor with encourage the patient to inspect the mouth regularly and it is important for a patient to report any changes in mouth right away.  From time to time a doctor may do a complete physical exam, order blood test and take x- rays.

Dr. P.K.Julka

Professor of Radiotherapy (Unit-1),

AIIMS

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