Oral cancer is the second most prevalent cancer in India caused by excessive tobacco consumption and alcohol intake. In this type, cancerous cells develop in the lips, cheeks, tongue, floor of mouth, soft and hard palate, throat, or sinuses. Some rare cancers can also develop in the salivary glands, tonsils, or pharynx.
The symptoms of cancer may not be apparent initially. The following symptoms may, however, develop gradually:
- Pain or numbness in the face or neck.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Problems in speech.
- Change in voice.
- A persistent mouth ulcer.
- Difficulty in moving the jaw.
- Loose teeth.
- Persistent swelling of the jaw.
- Sore throat.
- Red or white patches in the mouth.
- Abrupt weight loss.
Upon visiting the hospital, the doctor will conduct the following tests to confirm oral cancer:
- Physical examination: The first test in which the doctor will thoroughly examine the oral cavity, lips, neck, and nasal area for any lumps, patches, or ulcers.
- Imaging Tests: Various tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs will confirm the appearance of cancer.
- Biopsy: This is the final test in which a small tissue will be retrieved from the mouth and examined for the presence of cancer cells.
The common causes include:
- Tobacco and alcohol use.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
- Gender: Men are more prone to oral cancer than women).
- Age: Oral cancers are more prevalent above the age of 40.
- Poor nutrition.
- Excess body weight.