The oral cavity is primarily responsible for breaking down food before it is digested, and transporting food through the pharynx into the esophagus. In addition, many salivary glands are distributed in the mucous membrane surrounding the oral cavity, and the saliva secreted by these many salivary glands always keeps the oral cavity moist and plays an auxiliary role in digesting food. Oral cancer refers to malignant tumors formed in the oral cavity that play an important role. It occurs on the inner surface of the lips, tongue, gums, hard palate, and cheeks that make up the oral cavity. More than 90% of oral cancers are known as squamous cell carcinomas that arise from squamous epithelial cells that make up the mucous membrane of the mouth. In addition, oral cancer usually occurs more in the age group from 40 to 60 years old, and it is reported that men have a higher incidence than women. Although the exact cause of oral cancer has not been confirmed, smoking and excessive drinking habits are known to be the trigger factors that greatly influence the occurrence. In addition, chronic irritation caused by poor dental and oral hygiene, continuous exposure to UV rays, HPV, lichen planus, syphilis, and submucosal fibrosis are also factors that affect the occurrence. Because smoking is known as the biggest risk factor for oral cancer, the incidence rate was high in men who smoked a lot in the past, but it is known that the incidence rate of female patients is increasing due to the increased amount of smoking and drinking among women. Now, let’s learn about the various symptoms that appear when oral cancer occurs, and various information related to treatment and prevention.
The main symptoms of oral cancer
One of the main symptoms of oral cancer is soreness as a lesion in the oral cavity and ulcers on the tongue, lips, roof of the mouth, and buccal mucosa. In addition, symptoms such as white vitiligo and reddish spots may occur on the mucous membrane of the oral cavity, a feeling of thickening of the cheeks, a feeling of a foreign body as if something is constantly stuck in the throat, difficulty swallowing or chewing, and a lump in the throat Symptoms such as drowsiness are also present. Symptoms may also include chronic sore throat, paresthesia in parts of the mouth and tongue, shaking teeth, lumps in the neck, and difficulty moving the tongue and jaw normally. In addition, bleeding, bad breath, and weight loss may occur. Because these various symptoms of oral cancer are relatively easy to detect with the naked eye compared to other cancers, they are often diagnosed at an early stage. If detected early, the cure rate is high, and the 5-year survival rate of oral cancer is as high as 75-93% if the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. Moreover, it is said that it can prevent dysfunction, facial deformity, and various functional disorders.
However, if detected late or if metastasis is severe, the survival rate will be lowered, and surgery may be accompanied by a condition such as cutting the bone under the jaw. It can also cause problems with normal speech skills due to carotid artery stenosis caused by radiation therapy and oral changes such as the tongue and lips. Therefore, if the aforementioned symptoms continue to occur, it is important to receive an appropriate diagnosis through a visit to the hospital for early detection of oral cancer. In addition, since the early lesions of oral cancer have many symptoms similar to those of stomatitis occurring in the mouth, stomatitis is often mistaken for oral cancer. While most stomatitis heals spontaneously in about 2 weeks, if the pain, ulcer, vitiligo, and other related symptoms persist after 2 to 3 weeks, it is recommended to get an accurate examination because it is possible to suspect the occurrence of oral cancer.
Oral cancer treatment and prevention
1. Multiple tests and accurate treatment
To diagnose oral cancer, a small portion of the suspected area is removed under local anesthesia and a microscopic biopsy is performed. After that, if oral cancer is diagnosed, tests such as CT and MRI are performed to precisely check whether or not lymph nodes have metastasized to the oral cavity and neck. In addition, PET-CT examination method to check metastasis other than the oral cavity and neck area and bone scan test to check metastasis of bone tissue can be performed. Depending on the results of the diagnosis through various tests, surgical and non-surgical treatment are carried out in consideration of the stage and age of oral cancer. Surgical treatment is the preferred treatment method, and it is performed in the form of restoration of appearance and function by performing reconstruction in the oral cavity. And if the cancer has advanced a lot, such as when it has invaded various tissues in the oral cavity, when surgical treatment is not possible, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are combined to treat it.
2. No smoking
Smoking is known to be the biggest risk factor for oral cancer. About 72% of oral cancer patients were smokers, and it is reported that about 60% of them smoked more than one pack a day. Additionally, according to a study by the American Cancer Society, smokers are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as nonsmokers. Moreover, it is recommended to quit smoking because it is known that smoking is the factor that has the greatest influence on the occurrence of not only oral cancer but also other cancers such as laryngeal and lung cancer. It has also been reported that smoking and drinking alcohol at the same time increase the risk of oral cancer by about 30 times. Therefore, it is recommended to limit the habit of drinking and smoking at the same time, and it is also recommended to improve the habit of drinking excessively.
3. Maintain a balanced diet
To prevent oral cancer, it is also important to maintain a balanced diet rich in various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. According to the results of many studies, it has been confirmed that regular intake of green-yellow vegetables and fruits rich in various vitamins such as vitamins A, C, and E helps to prevent the occurrence of oral cancer. On the other hand, there is a report that excessive intake of foods containing saturated fat and animal fat is a risk factor affecting the development of oral cancer, so it is important to control intake.
In addition, it is known that excessive exposure to UV rays also affects the occurrence of oral cancer, so it is recommended to minimize UV exposure by wearing a hat and using sunscreen. In addition, as there are reports of cases where dentures that do not fit well with a prosthesis that have been sharpened due to prolonged use cause continuous wounds on the oral mucosa, which affects the occurrence of oral cancer, continuous check-ups and improvement are important. In addition, poor oral hygiene is also associated with the development of oral cancer, so it is important to keep your mouth clean at all times.