Oral carcinoma strikes more than 30,000 individuals annually, and more than 95% od these cases are a direct result from alcohol and tobacco use. In some cases lesions cannot be detected before the oral carcinoma progresses, and this is because there are very little early signs present when the oral carcinoma is in its early stages. Extensive screening, however can result in early detection where the disease may be curable. There is a 50% survival rate within the five years after treatment through any of the stages of the disease.
Of all cancers, oral carcinoma affects about 2% of women and 5% of all men. Also known as oral squamous carcinoma, oral carcinoma mostly strikes people of 50 years of age or older. It mostly is found in the neck and head region of the individual, and is one of the more common forms of pharyngeal and oral cancers.
Factors that may cause oral carcinoma:
- Smoking more than two packs a day
- When alcohol is consumed in more than 6-12oz doses
- The combination of smoking and alcohol abuse
- Dental caries
- Overuse of mouthwash
- Using chew tobacco
- Betel quid usage
- Oral HPV (Human pappillomavirus)
Facts of where oral carcinoma surfaces:
- In 40% of individuals that have oral carcinoma, their cancer begins in the surfaces of the tongue and the bottom of the mouth.
- In 38% of individuals who have oral carcinoma it begins in the lower lip section of their mouth, and are often detected on the surface of the lip.
- In 11% of individuals that have oral carcinoma, the cancer starts in the tonsular region and along the palate.
Signs and symptoms of oral carcinoma:
It is imperative that regular oral screening is essential, because oral carcinoma lesions are not symptomatic and very hard to detect. Most dentists can detect anything abmormal on a routine dental exam and test them by performing a brush biopsy. Sore throat and swelling in the tonsillar region may indicate tonsillar carcinoma. Sometimes there is pain that radiates to the ipsilateral ear. Also in tonsillar oral carcinoma, a metastatic mass appears in the neck region and can be one of the first indications.
How is oral carcinoma diagnosed?
Oral carcinoma is usually diagnosed by a biopsy. Most bases are covered with esophagoscopy, laryngoscopy, bronchoscopy to prevent any undetection of other cancers. Normally, the practicing physician will order chest x-rays and a chest CT if the oral carcinoma is suspected of being in the latter stages.
Prognosis of oral carcinoma:
- Localized oral carcinoma 50% 5-year survival rate
- Floor of mouth oral carcinoma 65% 5-year survival rate
- 15% lymph node metastases 5-year survival rate
- Lower lip oral carcinoma 90% 5 –year survival rate
- 68% 5 –year survival rate in oral cancer in tonsillar region or palate
Treatment for oral carcinoma:
There are two preferences in treatment for oral carcinoma surgery and radiation. In the circumstance of tongue lesions surgery is performed to remove the carcinoma that is present in the lesion. This may result in the patient needing reconstruction surgery to repair large sections of tissue being removed, and many times speech and therapy will have to be a post- op recommendation.
In some circumstances radiation and chemotherapy is preferred treatment in oral carcinoma cases that indicate metastases spreading to the lung, lymph nodes, bones, pericardium, and heart.
Tonsillar oral carcinoma is usually treated by intermittent radiation and chemotherapy. If serious cases are present a radical resection to remove the lesions and tonsillar fossa will be performed or laser therapy is referred.