What are Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancers?
Oral cavity cancer, also known as oral cancer, is a condition when malignant (cancer) cells in the mouth start to grow out of control and form a hard mass or tumor. This cancer starts in the mouth. Oropharyngeal Cancer starts in the oropharynx (part of the throat just behind the mouth that includes your back of tongue, soft palate, tonsils and side & back wall of throat).
What causes Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancers?
Scientists are not yet sure as to what is the exact cause for Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancers but there are certain risk factors that are responsible for these cancers, namely:
- Tobacco and alcohol
- Betel quid and gutkha
- HPV infection
- Gender (more common in men)
- Age (older people above 55 years)
- Ultraviolent light
- Poor nutrition
- Weakened immune system
- Genetic syndromes
- Lichen planus
What are the symptoms of Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancers?
The various signs and symptoms of Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancers are:
- Painful sore formed in the mouth that does not heal
- A lump formed in the cheek or neck
- White/red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
- A sore throat
- Difficulty chewing food or swallowing
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
- Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth
- Swelling of the jaw
- Loosening of the teeth
- Change in voice
- Weight loss
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
How can Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancers be treated?
The treatment for Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancers depends on the stage and location of cancer. It may include:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Palliative treatment
These treatment methods may be used alone or in combination. Usually, surgery is the first option for these cancers and may later be followed by other methods.