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Oral cancer: importance of timely diagnosis

oral cancer

The term tumor of the oral cavity indicates all neoplasms affecting the mouth. In particular, the tumor can affect: tongue, gums, mucous membranes, palate, lips and lower part of the mouth.

In Italy there are about 6,000 new cases of oral cancer, of which 70%, 5 years after diagnosis, lead to death.

An alarming fact because both the number of clinical cases of mouth cancer and the mortality rate following diagnosis are increasing. There is little information regarding this type of tumor, the symptoms are often underestimated because they are confused with other and milder pathologies: abscesses, canker sores, lesions of the mucous membranes. Our advice is never to underestimate any symptoms related to the health of the mouth, in the particular case of the tumor of the oral cavity; in fact the timeliness of the diagnosis is fundamental.

Risk factors for oral cancer

As with all cases involving tumor diseases, risk factors that can increase the predisposition to contract oral cancer can also be considered for oral cancer.

The main risk factors for mouth cancer are the following:

Abuse of smoking and alcohol

Being a regular smoker or consuming excessive amounts of alcohol is a major factor compared to the possibility of developing mouth cancer. The analysis of clinical cases shows that 90% of people with oral cancer are also hardened smokers. Reducing or eliminating smoking and alcohol from your lifestyle can be a good starting point for effective prevention.

Poor oral hygiene

The oral hygiene factor is to be taken into consideration not only for oral cancer. Poor or incorrect oral hygiene in fact can predispose any individual to multiple pathologies of the oral cavity. The proliferation of bacteria inside the mouth and the accumulation of plaque and tartar facilitate the onset of inflammation and infection.

Dental implants not positioned correctly

Mobile prostheses or incorrect planning of an immediate load dental implant can lead to continuous microtraumas inside the oral cavity, due to the lack of stability of the implants. Microtraumas can cause lesions which, if neglected, can turn into malignant lesions.

Diet low in vitamins

Vitamins A, C and E, especially present in fruit and vegetable fibers, promote cell regeneration and eliminate free radicals. A deficiency of these vitamins in a diet with few vegetables can therefore be a factor that increases the probability of developing mouth cancer.

Presence of past infections

The presence of papilloma virus, HPV 16, was considered directly related to the possibility of an oral carcinoma.

Symptoms of oral cancer

The presence within the oral cavity of:

  • white or reddish lesions;
  • oral mucosal wounds that persist over time;
  • growths or swellings;

non devono mai essere trascurate, perché possono essere l’evidenza di lesioni pre-cancerose o cancerose. Non aspettate mai che una lesione all’interno della bocca guarisca da sola, consultate sempre il vostro odontoiatra di fiducia perché solo un occhio clinico può diagnosticare con esattezza la causa della lesione.

Prevention tips

Quitting smoking, improving your lifestyle with proper nutrition and constantly taking care of your oral hygiene allow you to prevent cancer of the oral cavity. To this it is necessary to add constant monitoring, both in terms of self-observation (see figure below), to ascertain any lesions of the oral cavity, and in the planning of periodic check-ups by your dentist.

oral cancer symptoms

Treatment of oral cancer

Early detection of oral cancer can facilitate therapies and promote complete recovery. An oral carcinoma, in its first stage, can in fact be attacked and treated through radio or chemotherapy. At an advanced stage, on the other hand, it requires much more invasive surgery and which unfortunately is not always sufficient to eradicate the disease.

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