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Defeat oral cavity cancer with these 5 treatments

Ramesh is a senior citizen. He was experiencing a sore throat on the right hand side. He tried many things but nothing could give him relief.

So, after a few weeks he went to see a doctor. His doctor immediately referred him to the specialist. Consultant asked him some common questions like whether he smokes, chews tobacco or drinks a lot of alcohol. And he did nothing out of that ! 

Consultant referred him to go through a biopsy. After biopsy reports, the consultant said that he was 90% sure that it was mouth cancer. Ramesh was shocked hearing that because cancer was never in his mind nor he ever imagined that sore throat can be a mouth cancer.

He was given 2 options. Either go through surgery and then some rounds of chemotherapy or radiation therapy or only just radiation therapy.He chose surgery.

Before the operation he went through an MRI and CT scan to understand the extent of cancer. Then he went through surgery in which some parts of his tongue were removed and reconstructed with the help of arm skin and veins. Later he was given radiotherapy.

According to Ramesh, it was a scary experience but it was worth going through it. Today, after 11 years he is living a good quality life with his grandkids.

oral cancer treatment in India
Everything about oral cavity cancer

Oral cavity cancers generally have very common symptoms and sometimes it may happen without any associated risk factors. Going through screening for any persistent symptoms is the key to finding this cancer. And it is treatable. This is the reason we have created this post to help you understand everything about oral cavity and how it is treated.

So first of all,

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What is oral cavity cancer?

Oral cavity cancer starts in the mouth and moves towards the throat. Oral cavity includes teeths, gums, area behind wisdom tooth, first two third parts of the tongue, cheeks and floor of the mouth. Apart from that you should be knowing about oropharynx. Oropharynx is the middle part of the throat just adjacent to the oral cavity. It includes tonsils, base of the tongue and inner walls of the throat. It can be seen when the mouth is fully open.

The combined role of oral cavity and oropharynx is to help you eat,chew, breath, talk and swallow.

what oral cavity cancer is

What are types of oral cavity cancer?

Oral cavity has different types of cells. Each cell type can have a different type of cancer. These different types of cancer determine their treatment.

Squamous cells are thin, flat cells that form the inner lining of the oral cavity and oropharynx. The majority of oral cavity cancers are squamous cell cancers.

In earlier stages of this type of cancer, cancerous cells are found in the epithelial layer. The epithelial layer is the innermost layer of the cells. It further grows into a deeper layer of the cells.

Apart from that, there is another type of squamous cell cancer, which is called HPV-related cancer. HPV stands for human papillomavirus. It rarely occurs in the oral cavity. And it occurs in young people with no history of tobacco or smoking.

This type of cancer starts in salivary glands in the inner lining of the mouth and oropharynx.

There are immune system tissues at the base of the tongue and tonsils. In those tissues lymphoma cancer starts.

It is a kind of precancerous condition where certain types of tissue changes take place in the mouth and throat.

Leukoplakia is a white or grey area in the mouth that doesn’t get removed upon scratching.

While Erythroplakia is a white and red patch that often bleeds upon scratching.

So, that’s it about types of oral cavity cancer. Now we will see various stages of oral cavity cancer.

What are stages of oral cavity cancer?

Physicians attribute the stage of the cancer by combining the T, N and M classifications. Staging also includes PSA level (see Pre-screening) and category group.

Stage 0: In this stage cancer is within the epithelium layer. As you saw it earlier, Epithelium is the top most layer inside the oral cavity. Cancer has not grown inside to other layers of the cells in this stage.

 In stage 1, Cancer area is 2 cm or smaller. It has not spread to other inner layers or the cells or lymph nodes

 In stage 2, cancer grows more than 2 cm but not larger than 4 cm. It may be spread to inner cellular levels but not nearby tissues and lymph nodes.

 In this stage cancer grows larger than 4 cm. In oropharynx cancer tumors grow to epiglottis. Epiglottis is a base of the tongue. It may be spread to maximum 1 nearby lymph node or may not be spread to any lymph node and nearby organs.

 In stage 4 cancer grows larger than 4 cm and can be of any size. It grows outside to nearby organs like,

  • It grows to the chin , jaws, floor of the mouth in the lip cancer.
  • In oral cavity cancer it grows up to jaws, face bones, skin of the face and deep muscles of the tongue
  • In oropharynx cancer, cancer cells grow to the larynx(also called voice box), tongue muscles and jaw bones.

Now we will see what are risk factors associated with oral cavity cancer.

symptoms

What are symptoms of oral cavity cancer?

Symptoms of oral cavity cancer are very common and may or not be cancer. But if symptoms remain persistent and if you are associated with any risk factors, it is advisable to see a doctor and get it screened.

So here are symptoms of oral cavity cancer,

  • Sore mouth and lip that doesn’t heal over a long time.
  • A white or reddish patch inside the mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Weak teeth 
  • Pain in ear and mouth
  • Presence of lump inside mouth and throat.
  • Difficulty or feeling of uneasiness while swallowing.

Now we will see what causes oral cavity cancer and what are stages of oral cavity cancer.

oral cancer symptoms - Oral cancer treatment
Risk-Factors-Mouth-Cancer

Causes

We need to know what causes oral cavity cancer

Oral cavity cancers occur when cells in the oral cavity start abnormal growth. It occurs due to mutation in the cells at the DNA level. There are no specific reasons known why genetic mutations occur. But still, there are some risk factors that can increase the risk of oral cavity cancer.

So, here are risk factors,

  • High alcohol consumption
  • Chewing of tobacco
  • Smoking
  • High exposure of sunlight to lips
  • Human papillomavirus – it is sexually transmitted virus
  • Weak immune system

Now, we will see how oral cavity cancer is diagnosed.

diagnosis

What methods are in place to screen for oral cavity cancer?

Oral cavity screening may include the following:

In the physical exam, the doctor takes a look at the mouth, lips and throat to see if there are any abnormalities. They also check areas where you may feel irritation like soreness in the throat and white or red patches.

In a physical exam, if a doctor observes any abnormalities they remove some tissue samples from that area for laboratory test purposes. Doctors may use cutting tools to remove some samples and it will be sent to the laboratory for testing purposes.

If biopsy reports are positive then next step is to check up to what extent cancer has spread in the body. For doing that various tests are performed.

It helps doctors to find what stage cancer it is. Treatment of cancer depends on what stage of the cancer it is. So, here are some tests 

  • Endoscopy

In endoscopy, a small flexible tube along with a camera is inserted in the mouth. With the help of a camera doctor checks whether cancer has spread beyond the mouth or not.

  • Imaging tests

Various imaging tests are prescribed to confirm whether cancer has spread beyond mouth and up to how much extent.

Imaging tests like X-ray, CT scan, MRI and PET are recommended for testing. Doctors may combine any of these tests as per requirement.

After imaging tests, the doctor decides treatment as per the extent of the cancer.

Now, we will see treatment for oral cavity cancer.

treatment

What are treatment options available for oral cavity cancer?

Oral cavity cancer treatment depends on various factors like stage of the cancer, location of the cancer and personal preference. In some cases only one treatment is enough while in some cases more treatments are combined.

Here are various treatment options for oral cavity cancer.

For oral cavity cancer, various surgeries are performed as per location of the cancer.

  • Surgery for cancerous tumor 

In this surgery, the surgeon removes the tumor part. Surgeons may cut away tumors and some parts of healthy tissues as a margin to make sure that all cancerous cells are removed. Surgery depends on tumor size, if the tumor is small then minor surgery is performed. For large tumors , more complicated processes are carried out.

  • Surgery for cancer that has spread to the neck

This surgery is carried out if cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the neck. Doctors remove lymph nodes containing cancerous cells in the neck. Neck dissection process is used to remove cancerous cells from lymph nodes in the neck.

  • Surgery for mouth reconstruction

After surgery, the doctor recommended mouth reconstruction surgery to rebuild the mouth. So that you can eat and talk normally again. Transplantation of skin and veins is carried out from various parts of the body to the mouth. In some cases dental implants are also performed.

There are risks associated with oral cavity cancer surgery. Like it may change the ability to speak , talk and eat. It may change your look. For a short term tube may be used to insert food and water in the body.

High energy beams like X-ray and protons are used to kill cancerous cells.

Radiation beam is targeted to cancerous cells.It is recommended alone or combined with surgery and chemotherapy as per requirement. Radiation therapy has some side effects like dry mouth, damage to jaw bone and decay of teeth.

This is the reason before radiation therapy for oral cavity, doctors recommended dental examinations to check whether teeths are healthy enough or not. Unhealthy teeths may need to be treated or removed before surgery.

In chemotherapy, a drug given to kill cancerous cells. It may be combined with other treatments to ensure complete removal of cancerous cells.

Side effects of chemotherapy is nausea, hair removal and vomiting

Immunotherapy is generally preferred for the patients who do not respond to all these previous treatments.

Immunotherapy basically uses the immune system to fight cancer. Immune system of the body does not attack cancer cells because cancerous cells produce protein that’s similar to normal cells. Immunotherapy interferes in this system.

Now we will see a very important part.

Targeted drug therapy is used to target specific weak parts of the cancerous cells. Targeted drugs also alter specific parts of the cancerous cells that trigger their growth.

For mouth cancer, Cetuximab  targeted drug therapy is used. Cetuximab targets specific proteins that are found in abundance in cancerous cells.

In targeted drug therapy,you may face some side effects like headache, diarrhea, skin rash and itching.

prostate cancer treatment cost in India

How much does prostate cancer treatment cost in India?

The cost for oral cancer treatment in India varies on the size of the tumor, stage of cancer, and also the treatment option is chosen according to the condition of the patient. A cancer evaluation will reveal the extent of the spread and the best-suited treatment to restrict and cure it. The cost for cancer evaluation starts from 500 USD.

After the initial evaluation, the oncologist will be able to gauge if cancer can be treated by therapy alone or if surgery is recommended. The cost for oral cavity cancer surgery in India starts from 3000 USD. Thanks to advancements in technology and innovation, newer and safer surgical options are also possible.

However, it is to be noted that not every patient is eligible for this treatment option. The onco-surgeon will suggest the best-suited treatment plan based on the patient’s case.

In certain cases, surgery is also to be combined with other treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy to ensure a complete cure. The cost of chemotherapy starts from 400 USD / cycle.  And The cost of chemotherapy starts from 4000 USD / cycle.

Treatment cost
prostate cancer survival rate

Success Rate

What is the survival rate of oral cavity cancer treatment ?

The average percentage of patients survived more than 5 years of oral cavity cancers are different as per location of the cancer like,

In Lip cancer, 5 years survival rate for initial local stage cancer is 94% , for advanced stage survival rate is 66% and for final stage survival rate is 32%. Overall survival rate is 92%.

In Tongue cancer, 5 years survival rate for initial local stage cancer is 82% , for advanced stage survival rate is 68% and for final stage survival rate is 40%. Overall survival rate is 67%.

In Floor of mouth cancer, 5 years survival rate for initial local stage cancer is 76% , for advanced stage survival rate is 38% and for final stage survival rate is 20%. Overall survival rate is 51%.

In Oropharynx cancer, 5 years survival rate for initial local stage cancer is 62% , for advanced stage survival rate is 57% and for final stage survival rate is 29%. Overall survival rate is 49%.

Conclusion

A lot of people survive their oral cavity cancer, even those with advanced illness. Oral cavity cancer often develops slowly, and effective treatment options now exist that prolong life. So, that’s it about oral cavity cancer. Connect with us for the best treatment of oral cavity cancer.

 

Frequently Asked Questions and patient concerns:

1. How can you detect oral cancer at home ?

Oral cancer can be checked at home with the help of touch tests. Put your index finger inside your cheek in the mouth and thumb on the outside of the cheek. Then roll your cheek between your thumb and index finger to see if there is any lump or not. If you find any tender spot or lump then it should be shown to the doctor.

2. Can a dentist detect oral cancer?

Dentists may not be able to detect oral cancer with the help of a physical exam. To detect oral cancer a biopsy test is required. But the dentist can surely find any suspicious red and white spots in the oral cavity.

3. How long does someone live with throat cancer?

Survival rate of throat cancer is high. Almost 90% of adults survive throat cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis

4.How to prevent oral cavity cancer?

If you wish to prevent oral cavity cancer, You should visit the dentist regularly for a routine check up. 

  • Avoid sun exposure to your lips. Apply sunscreen lotion on lips to protect lip skin.
  • Completely stop chewing tobacco and tobacco products.
  • Don’t drink alcohol in excessive amounts. Take alcohol in moderation. 

5. What is the right time to visit a cancer specialist in oral cavity cancer?

There are some early warning signs of oral cavity cancer. If you feel any of these signs, visit a cancer specialist immediately.

  • Sore throat for long period of time
  • Trouble in chewing or swallowing
  • Feeling of pain when moving your jaw and tongue.
  • Numbness in mouth, tongue and other areas in the oral cavity.

6. What are the advanced technologies to treat oral cancer?

There are many advanced technologies to treat your oral cancer. Like,

  • Immunotherapy where your immune cells are guided to attack cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy where high energy radiation beams are targeted on cancerous cells.
  • Targeted drugs therapy where a drug is targeted to specific weakness of the cancer cells that ultimately kills them.

7. Is head and neck and oral cancer the same ?

Oral cavity cancer is a cancer that starts in the head and neck. All the cancers in head and neck are collectively referred to as squamous cell carcinoma of voice box, throat and tongue. 

But there is a slight difference. When you say head and neck cancer, it also includes cancer that starts in the nasal cavity, thyroid gland, sinuses, salivary glands. While oral cancer is limited to only the oral cavity.

What is the recovery time after surgery in oral cavity cancer?

Recovery time completely depends on which part of your oral cavity was affected and upto what extent cancer was spread in that part. 

After surgery you may have to spend a few days at the hospital. It will take several weeks to feel better after leaving the hospital. After leaving hospital you will most likely need special care at home to get complete recovery.

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