Oral cancer symptoms
- Persistent mouth sore: A sore in the mouth that does not heal is the most common symptom of oral cancer
- Pain: Persistent mouth pain is another common oral cancer sign
- A lump or thickening in the cheek
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
- A sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat that does not go away
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
- Numbness of the tongue or elsewhere in the mouth
- Jaw swelling that makes dentures hurt or fit poorly
- Loosening of the teeth
- Pain in the teeth or jaw
- Voice changes
- A lump in the neck
- Weight loss
- Persistent bad breath
How is oral cancer treated?
Treatment for oral cancer will vary depending on the type, location, and stage of the cancer at diagnosis.
Treatment for early stages usually involves surgery to remove the tumor and cancerous lymph nodes. In addition, other tissue around the mouth and neck may be taken out.
Radiation therapy is another option. This involves a doctor aiming radiation beams at the tumor once or twice a day, five days a week, for two to eight weeks. Treatment for advanced stages will usually involve a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy is treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells. The medicine is given to you either orally or through an intravenous (IV) line. Most people get chemotherapy on an outpatient basis, although some require hospitalization.
Targeted therapy is another form of treatment. It can be effective in both early and advanced stages of cancer. Targeted therapy drugs will bind to specific proteins on cancer cells and interfere with their growth.
Nutrition is also an important part of your oral cancer treatment. Many treatments make it difficult or painful to eat and swallow, and poor appetite and weight loss are common. Make sure you discuss your diet with your doctor. Getting the advice of a nutritionist can help you plan a food menu that will be gentle on your mouth and throat, and will provide your body with the calories, vitamins, and minerals it needs.
Finally, keeping your mouth healthy during cancer treatments is a crucial part of treatment. Make sure to keep your mouth moist and your teeth and gums clean.