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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Oral Cancer: Causes, symptoms and diagnosis.

What is oral cancer? The term oral cancer includes cancers of the mouth and the pharynx (the back of the throat).
Being a subtype of head and neck cancer, oral or mouth cancer generally involves the tongue. Most of them look very similar under the microscope. Such similar looking organisms are called squamous cell carcinoma.

Causes of oral cancer
Excessive Tobacco, smoking and alcohol:
Smoking, alcohol and other tobacco use are linked with about 75 percent of oral cancer cases, caused by irritation of the mucous membranes of the mouth from smoke and heat of cigarettes, cigars, etc. Most cases of oral cancer are linked to cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol use, or the use of both tobacco and alcohol together. Using tobacco plus alcohol poses a much greater risk than using either substance alone.

Researches conducted by multiple peer reviewed journal articles indicate that HPV16 is the primary risk factor in this new population of oral cancer victims. HPV16 (along with HPV18) is the same virus which is responsible for the vast majority of all cervical cancers and is the most common sexually transmitted infection.

Age is another deciding factor. Risk increases with age. Oral cancer most often occurs in people over the age of 40.
Diet again is a very important factor, that helps the cancer cell to grow or develop. A diet low in fruits and vegetables may play a role in oral cancer development.

Symptoms of oral cancer
Any lesion or ulcer in the following places that does not go away in 2 weeks:
• On the tongue, lip, or other mouth areas (Most often pale colored, be dark or discolored)
• Early sign may be a white patch (leukoplakia) or a red patch (erythroplakia) on the soft tissues of the mouth
• Behind the wisdom tooth
• Sometimes behind the ear

Diagnosis and oral cancer exam 

An oral cancer examin helps in detecting early signs of cancer. The exam is painless and takes only a few minutes. During the exam, the doctor checks the face, neck, lips, tongue, mouth, and the back of the throat for possible signs of cancer.

There are a variety of screening devices that may assist dentists in detecting oral cancer, including the Velscope, Vizilite Plus and the identafi 3000.

Low public awareness of the disease is a significant factor, but these cancers could be found at early highly survivable stages through a simple, painless, 5 minute examination by a trained medical or dental professional.

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