Get the Facts
About 90 percent of oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. This cancer can be located in the oral cavity (tongue, cheeks, soft palate, etc.), the lips, the tonsils and more. When the cancer starts it mutates the genes which control cell behavior. These mutated genes grow and spread and multiply at an uncontrolled rate.
Oral Cancer Treatment
Before we talk about oral cancer treatment, let's start with an oral cancer screening. An oral cancer exam allows your dentist to look for any signs of oral cancer. He or she can perform this check during a regular dental visit. It's a pain-free process that takes about 5-15 minutes. Typically, your dentist will look for symptoms or oral cancer on the roof and floor of your mouth, at the base of your tongue and its underside, along the insides of your lips and cheeks as well as around your jaw and neck. If your dentist sees any potential signs of oral cancer, he or she will take a biopsy.
In the event that you receive a positive diagnosis, your oral cancer treatment will require the help of several doctors from many fields of medicine. Oral cancer treatment generally involves a surgeon, radiation oncologist (doctor trained to give X-ray treatments), oncologist (cancer doctor), and a rehabilitation and restorative specialist.
Am I at Risk?
It may seem obvious, but two things may put you at higher risk for developing oral cancer: tobacco and alcohol.
Cigarette smoking, cigar smoking and chewing tobacco have all been linked to oral cancer. Far rarer are cases of oral cancer among non-smokers. New research suggests that oral cancer can even be transmitted between partners.
What's not widely known is the definitive link between smoking and drinking in oral cancer cases. Smokers who are also heavy alcohol drinkers increase their oral cancer risk significantly. These two substances act together to become even more deadly and more debilitating.
Age also plays a central role in developing oral cancer symptoms. People over 40 are at a much higher risk.
Because oral cancer is a significant byproduct of smoking, it puts your partner at risk, not to mention those who come in close contact with your second-hand smoke. If unable to quit, as so many millions are, it's imperative that you visit your dental professional twice a year for your oral cancer screening.
Properly diagnosing oral cancer symptoms in their earliest stages is crucial to fighting this disease.