- Oral cancer facts*
- What is the oral cavity?
- What is cancer?
- Who's at risk for oral cancer?
- What are the symptoms of oral cancer?
- How is oral cancer diagnosed?
- How is oral cancer treated?
- Methods of treatment
- What are the side effects of treatment for oral cancer?
- What is rehabilitation for oral cancer?
- What happens after treatment for oral cancer?
- What does the future hold for patients with oral cancer?
- What resources are available to patients with oral cancer?
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
Oral cancer facts*
*Oral cancer facts medical author: Charles P. Davis, MD, PhD
- The oral cavity is complex and consists of lips, cheek lining, salivary glands, hard palate, soft palate, uvula, area under the tongue, gums, teach, tongue, and tonsils.
- Oral cancer is abnormal (malignant) growth of body cells in any part of the oral cavity; oral cancer is sometimes termed head and neck cancer.
- Risk factors for oral cancer are many; for example, tobacco use alcohol use, sun exposure (lips), anyone who has already had some form of head and neck cancer, and human papilloma virus infection.
- Symptoms of oral cancer may include red, white and/or a mixture of these colors in patches, a non-healing sore in the mouth or on the lips, bleeding, loose teeth, swallowing problems, new denture problems, lumps or bumps on the neckm, and earaches.
- Oral cancer is diagnosed by the patient's history and physical exam and definitively by a biopsy of oral tissue; occasionally, CT scans, MRI scans or PET scans may be used.
- The treatment of oral cancer is usually decided in conjunction with the patient's doctor.
- Methods of treatment for oral cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
- The side effects of oral cancer treatment may include pain, weakness, altered facial appearance, difficulty in swallowing or chewing food, dry mouth, tooth decay, sore throat, sore gums, bleeding, infections, denture problems, voice quality, thyroid problems, fatigue, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Rehabilitation after oral cancer surgery consists of regaining strength, developing a healthy diet the patient can tolerate, and possibly dental implants or facial reconstruction surgery.
- After treatment and rehabilitation (see above), checkups are needed to maintain health and make sure that the oral cancer does not recur.
- Oral cancer treatment can result in significant lifestyle changes; most patients are advised to discuss lifestyle problems with professionals such as social workers to help patients get the care they may need.
- This article provides several methods to discover what support groups are available to oral cancer patients.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/28/2014
Next: What is the oral cavity?
Find out what women really need.