What exactly is oral cancer?
Oral cancer is a type of upper aerodigestive tract cancer (or VADS cancer). It is a cancer that affects the oral mucosa, which is located inside the mouth, in 90% of cases. Oral cancer can also develop in deeper tissues such as bone, muscle, or nerves. It can also cause problems with the lips, tongue, lower mouth, gums, salivary glands, and palate.
Oral cancer is responsible for 20,000 new cases in France each year, primarily in men, ranking it fifth among male cancers. Oral cancer affects people of all ages, but it is most common in people over the age of 40.
What are the most frequently asked questions?
- Will the treatment change the way I speak? Chewing? Swallow?
- Will it alter my appearance?
- What are the consequences of radiation therapy for my oral health?
- How can I maintain good oral hygiene while undergoing treatment?
- Is it necessary for me to change my diet, and if so, which diet should I choose?
What are the signs and symptoms of oral cancer?
Oral cancer typically begins with a sore or a lesion that lasts more than two weeks. There are other symptoms that can alert the patient, in addition to lesions in the mouth that do not heal. The presence of a tumor, pain when moving the tongue, discomfort when swallowing or chewing, and ear pain are the most common symptoms of oral cancer.
How is oral cancer detected?
The doctor does an interrogation to seek for symptoms and risk factors for the disease before making a diagnosis.
Oral cancer has a variety of origins, and a number of factors enhance one’s risk of developing the disease. Tobacco use (smoked, snuffed, or chewed) is linked to 75% of instances. But also excessive alcohol intake (particularly the combination of cigarettes and alcohol), excessive sun exposure to the lips, and, in Asian cultures, the chewing of specific pastes such as betel. A neglected dentition is also linked to an increased risk of oral cancer. Finally, a papillomavirus infection
What is the treatment for oral cancer?
The choice of treatment is determined by the following factors: the timing of the diagnosis of oral cancer,
- the tumor’s size and histological type,
- whether or not lymph nodes are present,
- the progression of oral cancer,
- the patient’s age and medical history,
- the general health of the patient
Oral cancer is commonly treated with radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy, either alone or in combination.
In a later phase, reconstructive surgery is associated with the treatment. Finally, if the tumor cells have impacted the lymph nodes in the neck, the doctor may recommend lymph node dissection (a technique to remove the lymph nodes in the neck) in conjunction with surgery.
Radiation therapy is used to treat cancer. Radiation is typically used to supplement the effects of surgery. A radioactive element is sometimes inserted in direct contact with the oral cancer (this is the principle of brachytherapy), with the goal of reducing irradiation of the surrounding tissues.
Chemotherapy (i.e. anti-cancer medications) can be coupled with radiotherapy in advanced stages of oral cancer.