The Truth About Oral Cancer: When Knowledge Is The Best Cure

Leokoplakia buccalis, also called "smoker's patch," and the related keratosis labialis are seen in middle-aged adults, more than 80% of them men. These conditions are characterized early by the appearance of one or two small, thin, often crinkled, pearly patches on the mucous membrane of the tongue, the mouth, or both, due to "keratinization" of the mucosa and sclerosis of its underlying tissue.

Not frequently, cancers start in the keratonized patches.

Carcinoma may arise in any part of the cancer in this area, including cancer of the pharynx, accounts for 3% of all cancer deaths in the United States. Cancers in the mouth and the lips are commonly known as oral cancers.oral cancer

Males are afflicted 3 ½ times more than females. Of the 7,000 oral cancer deaths annually, the distribution site is estimated as follows: lip (27%), tongue (22%), salivary gland (16%), floor of mouth (14%), other mesopharynx including tonsil (10%).

Squamous cell (epidermoid) carcinoma constitutes over 90% of all oral cancer. The next most common type arises from the submucous glands, adenocarcinoma. The third grouping includes malignancy of the jawbone. The year cure rate is below 30%.

Alternatively, most causes of oral cancers are not known. However, experts say that oral cancers can be prevented by good dental care and no smoking.

In tobacco chewers, the mucous membranes of the cheek are the commonest site. A jagged tooth and poor dental hygiene may be the cause. Betel and areca nut, used widely for chewing in South India is believed to be related to that country's high incidence of oral cancer.

Cancer of the Lip

This tumor, usually called an epithelioma, occurs most frequently on the lower lip in men  as a chronic ulcer. Predisposing factors may be chronic irritation of a warm pipe stem, or prolonged exposure to the sun and wind. More significantly, however, is the tendency for the "smoker's patch" to progress to an epidermoid lip cancer. Any wart or ulcer of the lip that does not heal in 3 weeks should undergo biopsies.

Because the mouth is such an accessible and observable site, more intensive professional and patient educational programs are needed for early detection of mouth lesions that may lead to oral cancers. The nurse should urge the patient with a white patchy area, sore spot, or ulceration of lips, gums, or mouth that fails to heal after 2 weeks to see a physician.

Often the individual feels a roughened area with his tongue. Since pain is often one of the last symptoms to appear, a painless condition should not prevent further professional examination; this includes swelling, numbness, or loss of feeling in any part of the mouth.

Other symptoms of oral cancers may include:

1. Difficulty in swallowing
2. Mouth problems including soreness and excruciating pain
3. Unusual taste

All of these symptoms when experienced by an individual should seek medical advice at once. The only cure is surgery following early recognition of the condition. The enlargement of lymph nodes indicates metastases.

Clinical Management

The patient with oral cancer requires patience and understanding. Quite naturally, he tends to withdraw from people, is self-conscious about mouth odors, and is sensitive about his appearance. Thus, the immediate family need to be aware of their supporting role and in turn, should be informed of the plan of therapy for the patient.

Oral cancers could be very dangerous and fatal just like any cancers known. However, correct knowledge about the disease and instant medical action could just be the start of the road to recovery.

As they say, what you do not know will definitely hurt you. Therefore, it is best to take some significant information about oral cancers today.