In case you are in the habit of chewing tobacco, it is time for you to give up as you may be at a much higher risk for developing oral cavity cancer, says Dr Gagan Saini, radiation oncologist with Max Healthcare. Dr Saini has highlighted various aspects related to oral cavity cancer, starting from where India stands in terms of the disease burden to early diagnosis, treating methods and post-surgical care.
Q. What is oral cancer?
A. Oral cancer is a cancer of oral cavity and is a medical term for mouth cancer. It includes cancers of cheek, jaw, tongue, gums and upper part of mouth.
Q. How do people acquire oral cancer?
A. Tobacco consumption in any form is the highest risk factor in contracting oral cancer. People who smoke or chew tobacco in form of gutka/ zarda/ masala or smoke bidis/ cigarettes/ hookah have a much higher chance of getting oral cancer than people who do not use tobacco. The more the usage and the longer the usage of tobacco, the higher is the risk of acquiring the disease. It is also important to note that due to the highest consumption of tobacco here, India is recognised as the oral cancer capital of the world.
Q. What are they symptoms of oral cancer?
A. Oral cancer exists as an ulcer or ulcerating growth in mouth and its symptoms include:
- A sore on your lip or in the mouth that does not heal
- A lump on your lip, in the mouth, or in the throat
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth
- Unusual bleeding, pain, or numbness in the mouth
- A feeling of something caught in the throat
- Difficulty or pain when chewing or swallowing
- Swelling around the jaw
- A lump, swelling, or mass in the neck that doesn’t go away
- Weight loss that is unexpected
- A change in the voice
- Ear pain (persistent, stabbing type)
Q. How is oral cancer treated?
A. Most oral cancers are curable and are treated with surgery, with or without radiotherapy. There are several types of surgeries conducted to treat oral cancer. In case of a major surgery, the surgeon may also rebuild parts of the oral cavity to preserve the appearance and functions of the mouth. Radiation therapy is also used along with surgery or to treat and cure oral cancer. Chemotherapy is generally used in deemed high risk cases along with radiation therapy but chemotherapy may sometimes be used before or after surgery. Chemotherapy may also be used alone when the cancer is diagnosed in a later stage.
Q. What are the latest developments in oral cavity cancer treatments?
A. The treatment of oral cavity cancers is being enhanced by newer techniques and technology in all the disciplines of radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy. Surgical removal is aided by improving finesse in dissection by newer instruments and robotic assisted surgery (when deemed useful). Post-surgical rebuilding is aided by advanced plastic and vascular surgery. Radiation therapy has shown improved outcomes in terms of avoidance of unnecessary side-effects and better tumour dose by means of intensity modulated and image guided radiation therapy. Small recurrent tumours can even be subjected to highly focused short course radiation therapy with Stereotactic Body Radiation therapy. Chemotherapy with newer targeted drugs brings promise of lesser side-effects and better cure rates. Immunotherapy promises better outcomes for very advanced cases.
Published: October 12, 2018 10:31 pm | Updated:October 12, 2018 10:32 pm