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5 Important Things You Should Know About Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a type of cancer that can affect lips, teeth, lining tissue of lips and cheeks, the front two-thirds of the tongue, the roof of the mouth, gums, and floor of the mouth underneath the tongue. Oral cancer can also spread rapidly to other body parts, this process is known as metastasis. 

1. Symptoms and Diagnosis of Oral Cancer

There are several different symptoms that indicate oral cancer. Contact your dentist if you experience any of the following signs of oral cancer:

  • Lip or mouth sores that aren’t healing
  • Ear or mouth pain
  • Lumps or growths inside the mouth
  • Pain or difficulty when swallowing
  • Constant sore throat
  • Colored patches inside the mouth 
  • Unexplained tooth loss  

2. Causes and Risk Factors of Oral Cancer

There are many various factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer. These include:

  • Heavy alcohol consumption. Heavy alcohol consumption also increases the risk of oral cancer. Particularly more than eight drinks a week for women and more than 15 for men are associated with mouth cancer.
  • Smoking and chewing tobacco. Smoking cigarettes and even chewing tobacco increases your chances of contracting oral cancer.
  • Too much sun. Scientists are sure that ultraviolet rays can cause cancer of the lips.
  • Low immune system. When the body’s immune system is low, it’s easier for any disease to progress.
  • Human papillomavirus. HPV is responsible for 90% of oral cancer cases in recent years.

3. Stages of Mouth Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, oral cancer has four stages:

  • Stage 1: the tumor is usually two centimeters or less in diameter. Oral cancer has not spread to lymph nodes.
  • Stage 2: the tumor becomes larger. Mouth cancer yet has not spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3: Either the tumor is larger than four centimeters or it stays smaller but has spread to one lymph node. Cancer hasn’t spread to further parts of the body.
  • Stage 4: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body, nearby tissues, and organs.

4. Treatments for Oral Cancer

1. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is an oral or intravenous mixture of medications designed to kill cancer. These medications can be used for other cancer treatments. Common side effects of chemotherapy include vomiting, hair loss, and nausea.

2. Surgery

Surgery is the most common treatment option for patients with mouth cancer. Approximately 56% of oral cancer cases can be treated with surgery alone, depending on the stage.

3. Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy involves drugs designed to attach themselves to cancer cells which can stop them from dividing and spreading, halting the invasion of cancer. Targeted therapy can also be combined with chemotherapy and radiation.

4. Nutrition

Nutrition is a crucial aspect of your cancer treatment. Many people with mouth cancer lose too much weight, possibly due to difficulty chewing or nausea caused by chemotherapy. Your body needs certain nutrients to fight off this disease and strengthen your immune system. Here is a list of things you should do to improve your nutrition and cancer:

  • Eat organic, grass-fed meats
  • Stay away from processed foods like processed meats, packaged foods, and fast food
  • Avoid fried foods
  • Eliminate processed sugars
  • Eat plenty of vegetables, antioxidant-rich fruits, and high-fiber nuts and seeds.
  • Replace vegetable oils with healthier fats like butter, ghee, olive oil, and avocado oil.

5. Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy leverages your body’s natural cancer-fighting process: the immune system. When cancer strikes, it can sneak by the immune system by producing certain proteins.

However, immunotherapy interferes with this defense mechanism, allowing your body to fight off cancer. This cancer care is a common recommendation primarily for those who are not responding well to standard treatment.

6. Detoxification

Detoxification is essential since your body often eliminates toxins you’re exposed to throughout daily life. These include ingredients in some health and beauty products, chemicals in household cleaners, mercury from amalgam fillings, and plastics chemicals. By changing your diet you can help support your body’s normal detoxification pathways.

5. Mouth Reconstruction and Rehabilitation

Mouth reconstruction is needed for people who have lost part of their tongue, teeth, oral cavity, or jawbone due to mouth cancer. 

Often skin, muscle, or bone is borrowed from other body parts to restore a healthy mouth. Dental implants may also be required if teeth have been lost during cancer treatment. Rehabilitation after mouth reconstruction can be very long and extensive, and your physical therapists and doctors will help determine the best treatment for you.

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