Oct 01, 2022

What Does the Beginning of Mouth Cancer Look Like?

In its early stages, oral cancer can be difficult to spot, making it easy to overlook. Hence why we require regular dental check-ups for oral cancer screenings.

Dentists are trained to detect any early signs of developing oral cancer. Mouth cancer can develop in different parts of your mouth. Some of these parts include lips, salivary glands, the inner lining of the cheeks, gums, tongue, and the hard and soft palate.

Cancerous cells in the mouth can develop for no obvious reason, but they are usually associated with lifestyle habits. For example, smoking, tobacco, and alcohol are lifestyle factors that increase the risk of oral cancer.

If you are at a high risk of getting oral cancer, visit us for oral cancer screening in Calumet City.

Signs and Symptoms of Mouth Cancer

Signs and symptoms of oral cancer will vary from one person to another. However, if any of the following signs and symptoms persist for weeks, you should visit your dentist for an examination.

Early signs of mouth cancer one should look out for include:

  • Mouth sores that easily bleed and do not heal
  • Loose teeth
  • Red or white patches on the tonsils, gums, tongue, or the mouth lining
  • Having a thickening or a lump on the cheek, gums, lips, or neck

Other signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Having chewing difficulties when speaking, chewing, swallowing, or generally moving your jaws or tongue
  • Dry mouth or constant bad breath
  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Sore throat
  • Experiencing numbness or pain on your tongue or any other part of your mouth
  • Hearing difficulties or experiencing pain or ringing in your ears

How is Mouth Cancer Diagnosed?

Your dentist may spot a potential sign of oral cancer during regular dental check-ups. A follow-up that includes additional physical examination and tests is then done.

The roof and the floor of your mouth are closely examined. Your tongue, the back of your throat, cheeks, and the lymph nodes on your neck are also examined.

If the dentist cannot determine the symptoms you are experiencing, they may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

The dentist will perform a tissue or brush biopsy if tumours or suspicious lesions are found. A brush biopsy is non-invasive and involves the collection of cells from tumours by brushing them on a slide.

Tissue biopsies include removing a part of the tumour to be examined under a microscope.

The dentist may also do the following tests to diagnose mouth cancer.

  • X-rays show if the cancer cells have spread to the jaw, lungs, or chest.
  • MRI scans will show accurate images of your neck, head, and cancer stage.
  • Endoscopy examines the nasal passages, inner throat, trachea, or windpipe.
  • CT scan will reveal any tumours in your throat, mouth, neck, lungs, or other body parts.

What is the Treatment for Oral Cancer?

During diagnosis, your oral cancer treatment plan is determined by various factors such as size, type, location, and cancer stage.

The following are available treatment options for oral cancer at our Family Dental Care – Calumet City.

  • Surgery

The main goal of surgery as oral cancer treatment is to remove the affected tissue while minimizing damage to the other mouth organs. The surgical procedure removes the tumours and the cancerous lymph nodes when the cancer is in its early stages. If it is advanced, a part of your mouth lining or facial skin may be removed.

  • Chemotherapy

This type of treatment uses anti-cancer drugs to get rid of cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be done on its own or combined with radiation therapy. Your dentist may also recommend chemotherapy to reduce the tumour size before surgery. Chemotherapy can also be the preferred treatment if cancer has returned after undergoing other treatment methods.

  • Radiation Therapy

This is another type of cancer treatment that uses doses of radiation beams to kill cancerous cells. It is usually done after surgery to prevent cancer from returning. The treatment therapy can also be used to treat small oral cancers. Radiation therapy can also be combined with other treatments to treat more advanced cancers.

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