Oral cancer is a dangerous disease because it is responsible for thousands of deaths each year. This cancer affects the lips, tongue, oral cavity and mouth. Patients rarely survive several years after diagnosis. Studies show that patients who die from oral cancer are higher than other cancers including cervical and skin cancer respectively.
Oral cancer is a worldwide challenge and as such the death rates are higher because it is difficult to detect the disease at an early stage. There is no provision to screen the disease at an early stage. Additionally, the virus contributing to the disease does not cause visible symptoms. There are cases where the disease can advance without symptoms or pain. Patients who suffer from this cancer discover its existence when it has metastasized on the neck or lymph nodes. Causes of oral cancer include:
- Age is one of the risk factors of this disease. People above 40 years of age suffer the most from this disease because of aging and slow or diminishing immunity.
- Tobacco use in all its kinds is the number one risk of oral cancer to people who are above 50 years old. When tobacco is combined with heavy drinking, the risk increases.
- Exposure to ultraviolet rays and radiation: This is responsible for cancers of the lips and skin. Long exposure to the sun and over use of sunscreen can also be a danger. Radiographs that are taken during x-rays are needful during a doctor’s visit but too much exposure to this radiation can cause oral cancer.
- Virus and fungi: The human papilloma virus that is transmitted sexually lowers immunity levels and can cause oral cancer as well as anal cancer.
- A diet low in vegetables and fruits can contribute to oral cancer.
People are encouraged to visit their dentists regularly because dentists have the ability to detect tissue changes when they occur. Oral cancers may start as white or red patches inside the mouth. There are cases where ulcers are seen or bites inside the cheek can lead to a severe case of oral cancer.
Once a diagnosis is made, treatment involves a process of seeing surgeons, oncologists, chemotherapy and dentists. Chemotherapy usually happens concurrently with radiation. Chemotherapy will kill the cancer cells while radiation reduces the size of malignant cells before surgery. There are cases where the assistance of nutritionists and rehabilitation specialists is needed. This assists the patients in eating a balanced meal and recovering from the disease respectively.