Though occasionally overlooked in comparison to other potentially deadly malignancies, oral cancer can precipitate tremendous disability and possibly even death.
Therefore, dentists cannot stress the importance of oral cancer screening to current and prospective patients enough. Additionally, said dental care providers highlight the crucial nature of engaging in preventative measures.
Oral Cancer Overview
Oral cancer is the abnormal growth of cells and tissues anywhere in the mouth, such as the gums, cheeks, lips, tongue, and other surrounding structures.
Researchers have found that nearly 54,000 Unites States citizens are diagnosed with this serious illness each year. Of said subjects, nearly 10,000 will eventually perish as a result and not even half will live five years past their diagnosis.
Oral cancer cells result from genetic mutations causing said systemic components to grow wildly and erratically. As time progresses, this bizarre growth leads to the formation of tumors, which could spread throughout the mouth, extend into other parts of the head and neck, and eventually, to other bodily regions.
Scientists cannot exactly pinpoint why these changes occur. However, said medical professionals maintain that most oral cancers begin in structures called squamous cells, which are the thin and flat organisms comprising the lips and mouth’s inner lining.
These same researchers suggest that the chances of developing oral cancer-causing cell mutations may be heightened by any number of risk factors including:
1. Tobacco Use
Arguably, tobacco use is the most significant risk factor. Activities, such as cigarette, pipe, and cigar smoking elevates one’s chances significantly. Furthermore, the risk may be increased manifold through endeavors like chewing tobacco or snuff.
Individuals over age 40 stand at higher risk than younger persons.
Research has concluded that men hold a greater risk than their female counterparts.
4. Excessive Alcohol Intake
Alcohol contains numerous abrasive chemicals known to harm oral cavity tissue and potentially induce cancer. Therefore, excessive ingestion elevates one’s chances. Moreover, routinely drinking and smoking in combination ups one’s risk exponentially.
5. The Human Papillomavirus
This sexually transmitted pathogen, which is often simply abbreviated as HPV, has been linked to the development of oral cancer.
6. Other Lifestyle Habits
Lifestyle habits, such as the consumption of an unhealthy diet, poor immune system maintenance, and excessive sunlight exposure have been classified as appreciable risk factors.
Though many diagnosed individuals possessed one or several of the preceding concerns, there is a solid fraction of ailing subjects that did not carry any discernible risk factors.
Physical manifestations may vary from patient to patient. However, oral cancer often elicits several common symptoms warranting an immediate trip to a dental professional or healthcare provider.
Such occurrences, include the development of red or white patches along the gums or inside the mouth, sores or injuries that fail to heal or worsen with time, a lump or growth somewhere inside the oral cavity, mouth or jaw pain, difficulty swallowing or speaking, ear discomfort, and loose teeth.
As the condition advances, stricken subjects might experience significant difficulties performing basic, life-sustaining activities like eating. Said events could result in serious nutritional deficiencies, which could leave the body susceptible to dangerous, potentially fatal secondary infections and other opportunistic illnesses.
Moreover, cancers progressing unchecked can spread to other bodily regions causing far greater sickness and disability necessitating more aggressive treatment and sometimes rendering such remediation difficult or even impossible.
A doctor or dental care provider will perform an oral cancer screening by examining a patient’s lips, tongue, gums, and all other oral components for aforementioned anomalies.
In certain instances, said medical professionals might execute a biopsy. This procedure involves the extraction of a tiny portion of mouth tissue to be taken to a laboratory and carefully studied.
Once cancer is firmly diagnosed, healthcare providers will then need to determine the stage said malignancy stands in. Stages range from I to IV with I being the earliest stage and IV meaning the cancer has spread well beyond the oral cavity.
To render this determination, dentists and physicians might employ diagnostic tools like an endoscopy, which is a small, thin, tube-like, camera-equipped structure enabling said professionals to examine the mouth and surrounding throat tissues.
Additionally, medical staffers might utilize internal imaging tests, such as X-Rays, computerized tomography, or CT scans, or magnetic resonance imaging, which are often abbreviated as MRI investigations, to capture internal bodily images capable of revealing oral cavity malignancies that have spread to other bodily regions.
Potential Treatment Options
Treatment will vary depending on the cancer’s stage, the patient’s general health, and if any other underlying complications are present. Early stage malignancies might respond to one treatment. However, more advanced cases may necessitate a combination of therapeutic protocols. Commonly employed remedial efforts include:
During this form of treatment, various cancer-killing drugs are administered in an attempt to slow the cancer’s progression or eradicate said malignancy altogether.
The beams emitted from radiation-producing devices like protons and X-Rays are transmitted into cancerous tissues and has proven effective in killing cancer cells or providing relief of symptoms.
A team of medical or oral surgeons remove cancerous tissue through various operative interventions. The extent of such procedures will hinge on where within the oral cavity the cancer is located and what stage said malignancy is concluded to be.
The body’s immune system is employed to fight the offending malignancy. Sometimes, oral cancer progresses because the malignant cells produce proteins inhibiting immune system cells from executing their function. Immunotherapy trains the body to interrupt this process.
The Importance Of Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer screenings are paramount to long-term survival. Unfortunately, however, symptoms do not always present themselves until the disease has progressed to a moderate or advanced stage.
It is for this reason, the professionals employed at Mercy Dental Care readily perform oral cancer screenings during routine examinations. More than 80 percent of all oral cancers can be found by a dental professional.
In addition to performing oral cancer screenings, our team highlights the importance of preventive dentistry. This is a collaborative effort between provider and patient in which a care program is established to not only attempt to prevent cancer and other significant oral maladies, in addition to maintaining the aesthetic quality of one’s mouth and smile.
Preventive dentistry involves activities, such as seeking regular dental care, practicing optimal oral hygiene, consuming a healthy diet, and limiting or eliminating vices like smoking and drinking.
The team members at Mercy Dental Care pride themselves on being widely thought of as amongst the best dentists in Glendale AZ. We enjoy the relationships we share with current patients and are always looking to expand our following. Those concerned about oral cancer or any other dental issues are encouraged to visit http://www.mercydentalcare.net for further information or to schedule a consultation.