One of every four people with oral cancer dies due to a late diagnosis.
The presence of sores, stains, constant bleeding, and changes in the tone of voice or pain in the mouth area are symptoms of this illness.
Anybody can have Oral Cancer, but the risk increases in men over 40 years old that have the habit of smoking and drinking. Frequent sun exposure can also turn into a major cause of oral cancer, according to the National Institute of Health in United States.
This illness can originate in any part of the mouth or throat. Some of the symptoms that can help detect it are: the presence of a sore or ulcer under the lip, tongue or any other part of the mouth.
According to Dr. Telma Rubinstein, Doctor in Dental Surgery at Prisma Dental, “When the dentist performs an oral examination in a patient´s mouth and finds white or red stains, a sore that does not cure, bleeding, tooth loss, pain or difficulty swallowing, a lump in the neck, swallowing of the jaw, changes in the voice, ear or throat pain; it is important to take extreme measures to rule out or detect a possible oral cancer on time.¨
The specialist adds that if the Cancer is detected on time, before it expands to other tissues, chances for a cure are approximately of 90%. Nonetheless, more than half of Oral Cancers have already been spread when they are diagnosed and they can spread to other regions, such as throat and neck.
“Around one out of every four people with oral Cancer dies due to a delayed diagnosis and treatment”, mentions Dr. Rubinstein.
The Doctor in Dental Surgery emphasizes that, when oral cancer is detected, the possibility of fixing any dental work should be considered before beginning any treatment for this illness.
“Cavities, periodontal disease, or any infection needs to be eliminated, and any extractions needed should be performed if they are in the compromised zone, or where radiation will take place. The patient has to be informed about the variety of oral complications that can occur during the different phases of the treatment against oral cancer”, recommends Dr. Rubinstein.
The expert indicates that this is necessary because oral infections can be a mean of developing systematic lethal infections, and they should be treated before oncologic treatment so that the patient´s condition does not worsen for these reasons. During oncological treatment no dental procedure should be performed.
In regards to the use of dentures during cancer treatment, these should only be worn for when the patient eats and they need to be adjusted to reduce the risk of trauma. Also, if there is a dental implant in the radiation zone, it is necessary to analyze if the dental implant must be removed; this due to the fact that metals can cause radiation overdoses where they are located and can reduce radiation it in its surrounding areas.
Dr. Telma Rubinstein explains that, in order to be able to diagnose oral cancer, a gum or tongue biopsy must be performed. In the first biopsy, a small fragment of the gum that may be abnormal is cut out; in the second one, the tongue is sensitized and a small piece of tissue is taken out with a needle.
Biopsies are done to determine the cause of abnormal tumors or areas of the tongue that may have a suspicious appearance. Prior to these tests, x-rays and a computed tomography can be done to determine if the disease has spread.
“Generally, surgical removal of the tumor is recommended if it is small enough. This surgery can be used combined with radiotherapy and chemotherapy for bigger tumors. This method is not performed if the cancer has spread to neck lymph nodes” explains Dr. Rubinstein.
Specific treatment for oral cancer will be determined by the physician, taking into consideration the patient’s age, overall health, medical history, progress of the disease, tolerance towards specific medications, procedures, or therapies, and expectations for the cancer´s development and outcome.
Dr. Rubinstein explains that, during the recovery stage, the frequency and severity of acute oral complications begin to decrease along the third and fourth week after the chemotherapy has finalized.
At any stage of cancer treatment oral hygiene is important. “Patients should brush their teeth three times a day and perform rinses with saline solution frequently. This same liquid may be used as a substitute for toothpaste if it generates irritation, and flossing may be done once a day”, recommends Dr. Rubinstein.
Suspending brushing and flossing may increase the risk of developing infections, bleeding bacteria growth. It is for this reason that a good oral hygiene must be practiced daily to avoid and remove plaque and bacteria.
By: Prisma Dental
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