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Oral Cancer Symptoms and Treatment Options  

Oral cancer is a type of cancer in which cancer cells first originate and grow in areas including the lips, tongue, cheeks, mouth, sinuses and throat.   There are a number of important oral cancer symptoms to be aware of.  If the disease is diagnosed early, there are some very effective treatments to address this disease.  But if left unchecked, the disease can become life threatening.  So let’s review some of the important symptoms to note. 

Oral cancer tends to strike more men than women.  It is also more common for men who are over the age of 50 and who are heavy users of tobacco and alcohol.  Those with a family history of cancer are also at greater risk of developing the disease. 

A very common symptom of oral cancer can be a growth or sore in the mouth which does not abate or go away.  If that occurs, take it seriously and get it checked out. 

Other common symptoms can include the following: 

  • A variety of bumps, lumps or thickened tissue on the lips, gums or areas inside of the mouth 
  • The presence of white or speckled spots within the mouth 
  • Persistent and unexplained bleeding in the mouth 
  • Numbness or pain in areas of the face, mouth or neck 
  • Persistent sores on the face, particularly the mouth which can bleed and which does not go away 
  • Problems with swallowing or speaking 
  • Ear pain including ringing of the ears 
  • Chronic sore throat and hoarseness of the voice 
  • Unexpected and large weight loss

If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor immediately. He/she can perform a variety of diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the problem. A common test is to take a tissue sample of the affected area. This can be reviewed by a pathologist who can determine the presence or absence of cancer. There may also be some imaging tests which can be performed to further isolate the affected areas. 

The treatment options usually depend greatly on the degree of oral cancer and where it is located.  For earlier stages of the cancer, surgical removal is generally a common treatment option.  There are many advanced techniques which are designed to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible without being overly invasive and affect the look and function of the face and features close to it. 

Other treatments including chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used as a less invasive procedure to remove as much of the cancerous cells as possible.  It should be noted that the goal of treatments in early stages is aimed at removing all signs of the cancer so that a cure can result.  If the cancer has spread without diagnosis and treatment to the point that is has affected other organs, the treatment options are different. 

The overall thrust will be less on seeking a cure and more on controlling the disease in the best possible manner for as long as possible.  Again the best results occur when the cancer is treated in the earliest stages.  So pay close attention to these key Oral cancer symptoms and minimize.