Oral Cancer and Pre-cancer
Visible clinical changes in the oral mucosa usually in the form of white (leukoplakia) or red (erythroplakia) patches may be a pre-cancerous lesion, so early detection of these changes is very important
Oral cancer takes different forms but the term is generally used to cover any abnormal malignant tissue growth in the mouth, often including tissue from the lips, tongue and cheek.
Smoking and tobacco use are associated with 70 – 80% of oral cancers and heavy alcohol intake is also a high-risk activity.
- Unexplained numbness in the face, mouth or neck
- Skin lesion, lump or ulcer – seen on the tongue, lip or cheek
- Usually small in size
- Usually pale coloured but can also be dark or discoloured
- May be a deep, hard edged crack in the tissue
- Usually painless, initially
- May develop a burning sensation or pain as the tumour advances
Additional symptoms can include
- Tongue problems
- Difficulty with swallowing and chewing
- Mouth sores
- Abnormal taste
- Minimise or avoid smoking or tobacco use
- Minimise or avoid drinking alcohol
- Eat a balanced diet
- Practise good oral hygiene
- Have soft tissue areas of mouth examined once a year – many oral cancers are first discovered during routine dental examinations.
It is difficult to give precise indicators since this is a broad and specialised field.
Not every occurrence of the symptoms mentioned will be an oral cancer and not every oral cancer will have these symptoms but if you suspect the presence of oral cancer, refer the patient to a specialist because early detection is very important.
Smoking and Alcohol – the risk of cancer is even higher in people who both smoke and drink alcohol
Age – Most patients are over 55
Gender – oral cancers are twice as common in men than women
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