What Does Gum Cancer Look Like? (4 Descriptions You Need To Know)2021-09-18
Gum cancer is often mistaken for gingivitis, but the first condition is more severe than the other. In fact, if you consult your local dentist about oral cancer, they will recommend an immediate dental care treatment. However, knowing the symptoms or how it appears can increase your awareness and action to seek help. So, what does gum cancer look like at the initial stage? Learn more about this article!
Head and Neck Cancer: What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer, also called oropharyngeal cancer, is a type of head and neck cancer. It affects the lips, gums, tongue, insides of the cheeks, the roof of the mouth, or the soft floor of the mouth under the tongue. However, the term oropharyngeal cancer is much applicable when it influences your upper throat, soft palate, or your tonsils. This is where the upper part of the mouth meets your throat.
In addition to head and neck cancer, a tumor can develop in your oral cavity, throat, voice box, nasal cavity, or salivary glands. Your gums are a part of your oral cavity. That is why gum cancer is a type of head and neck cancer as well. This cancer begins when cells in the upper or lower gums grow uncontrollably and structure sores or tumors. Most of the time, gum cancer is frequently mistaken for gingivitis.
Signs and Symptoms of Mouth Cancer
Generally, you should get medical attention for any symptoms of oral cancer that keep going for over two weeks. Commonly, these include:
- A sore, irritation, or aggravation in your mouth or throat
- A red or white patch within your mouth
- Hoarseness or other vocal changes
- Trouble moving your jaw or tongue
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing or speaking
- A feeling that something is trapped in your throat
- Persistent coughing
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Numbness in your mouth
- Ear pain that does not influence your hearing
- Swelling in your neck or jaw
- Unexplained weight loss
If you want to get your oral cancer symptoms evaluated by an experienced professional, turn to your reliable dentists, like the one at Bright-on Bay Dental. The Head and Neck Cancer Program team can use different diagnostic tests to know the fundamental cause of your troublesome symptoms. They can also provide medical advice on the proper treatment plan to help you accomplish the most ideal outcome and quality of life.
Different Descriptions of Oral Cancer
A Patch of Trouble
Squamous cells are the flat cells that wrap the surfaces of your mouth, lips, and tongue. In fact, most oral cancers start in these cells. A patch on your gums, tongue, tonsils, or the coating of your mouth can flag inconvenience.
Also, a red or white patch on your lips or within your mouth might be likely an indication of squamous cell carcinoma. Know that there are various scopes on how oral cancer may appear and feel. The skin might feel thicker, or there might be a persevering ulcer or erosion. In any case, remember that the persistent nature of these abnormalities is that noncancerous lesions tend to resolve in a couple of weeks.
Mixed White and Red Patches
Erythroleukoplakia is the term used to describe these red and white spot combinations. It is an abnormal cell development in your mouth that is bound to become cancerous. If white and red patches keep going for more than two weeks, then you should make an appointment with your dentist. Know that the early stages of oral cancer may cause no pain. Hence, you might notice these abnormalities before you feel them.
On the other hand, erythroplakia is used to describe the bright red patches in your mouth that appear and feel velvety. Most of these mouth abnormalities are usually precancerous. However, do not disregard any vividly colored spots in your mouth because erythroplakia can be cancerous.
In addition, you might also notice these abnormalities anywhere in your mouth. Yet, it develops frequently on the floor of the mouth under the tongue or on your gums. Examine your mouth cautiously once a month for any abnormal indications. Utilize a magnifying mirror under a brilliant light to get a clear view.
A white or grayish spot on your lips or within your mouth is known as keratosis or leukoplakia. An aggravation such as a broken denture, rough tooth, or tobacco use can result in cell overgrowth and develop these patches.
You can also get this condition, especially if you have the habit of chewing your lips or the inside of your cheek. Another thing is that exposure to carcinogenic items can likewise make these patches occur.
Generally, leukoplakia develops gradually over weeks or months. These mouth abnormalities can become malignant, but most of the time, it is benign. Also, the patches might be unpleasant, challenging, and hard to scratch off.
Causes of Mouth Cancer
It is believed that oral cancers emerge from cells in the oral cavity, which undergo DNA mutations. The transformations cause the cells to develop and partition quickly and abnormally. The specific reason for the DNA mutations in cells is unclear, yet some factors increase cancer danger. These are:
- Age. The danger for mouth cancer grows with age and is common to develop after 60 years.
- Tobacco use and alcohol consumption. Tobacco in any form and heavy alcohol use can significantly increase the risk of mouth cancer.
- Sex. Men are at double the risk of developing oral cancer compared to women.
- Sun exposure. Too much sun exposure can expand the danger of oral cancer developing from the lips.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV). This is a sexually transmitted disease, and some strains of HPV heighten the risk of mouth cancer.
- Immunity. A weak immune system because of health conditions such as malnutrition, HIV, etc.
- Poor dental hygiene. Bacteria or other microorganisms that cause infection can trigger the development of cancer cells.
Treatment of oral cancer relies upon the condition and location of cancer. This might include one or a blend of treatment modalities. Common options include:
If you have localized cancer, the surgeon may just eliminate the tumor with a margin of normal tissue encompassing the lump. However, suppose cancer has spread to different areas of the head and neck. In that case, the surgeon will remove the lymph nodes and affected tissues. Once they eliminated a significant part of the tissue, leaving a deformity, the surgeon would perform the reconstructive treatment.
Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy
Your doctor may recommend one of these methods or both, depending on the stage of your condition. Radiation involves applying high-energy radiation beams similar to X-rays to destroy cancer cells. While chemotherapy includes utilizing chemicals to kill malignant growth cells.
This technique helps the patient’s immune system to fight cancer cells.
Targeted Drug Treatment
This treatment option changes some proteins of the cancer cells that influence their development and result in the death of the cancer cell.
In addition to head and neck cancer treatment, cancer in the gums are highly curable when diagnosed early. Therapy frequently includes a surgical procedure performed by a surgeon. Generally, the treatment aims to:
- cure the cancer
- preserve the functions of your mouth and your appearance
- prevent cancer from returning
The degree and depth of cancer direct your plan of care. Treatment suggestions vary as indicated by whether cancer starts in the lower gums, the upper gums, or anywhere in your mouth.
If the cancer is further developed, your doctor may use radiation, chemotherapy, or both to shrink the tumor before or after surgery to diminish the danger of cancer from coming back. For certain individuals, radiation might be the only technique needed.
There is no proven method to prevent oral cancer. Nonetheless, you can lessen your danger of mouth cancer if you:
Consume alcohol only in moderation. Excessive alcohol consumption can disturb the cells in your mouth, making them susceptible to cancer. However, if you want to drink alcohol, do as such in moderation. That means drinking alcohol with some restrictions. One drink a day is enough for women of all ages and men more than 65 years old. While younger men can drink up to two glasses a day.
Do not start or stop using a tobacco product. If you do not smoke or use any tobacco products, do not start. But if you smoke or use tobacco, then it would be best to stop. Tobacco products can expose your mouth to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals.
Avoid too much sun exposure. Protect your skin and the skin of your lips from the sun. You can stay in the shade whenever possible, use a sunscreen lip product, or wear a broad-brimmed hat that adequately conceals your whole face, including your mouth.
Visit your dentist regularly. Last but not least is to make a regular appointment with your dentist. As part of a standard dental checkup, request that your dentist inspect your whole mouth for abnormal areas that might show oral cancer or precancerous changes.
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