Oral Cancer
Oral cancer, commonly called mouth cancer is one of the fastest growing cancer in India not only in rural but also in urban India.


What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer, commonly called mouth cancer is one of the fastest growing cancer in India not only in rural but also in urban India. It includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, the floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat). Oral cancer can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated timely.

What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

  • A sore or irritation that doesn't go away
  • Red or white patches
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
  • Typically the lesions have very little pain until they become larger and they are associated with a burning sensation
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Difficulty or decrease in opening the mouth

If you have any of these symptoms, you need to visit your dentist, especially if you’ve had them for two weeks or more.

How prevalent is Oral Cancer in India?

India has one-third of oral cancer cases in the world. Oral cancer accounts for around 30% of all cancers in India. Oral cancers in India estimated (as of 2018): New cases: 1,19,992 Deaths: 72,616 In general, more men suffer and die from oral cancer than women.

What causes Oral Cancer?

  • Tobacco, tobacco products and betel/areca nut consumption is the leading cause of oral cancer. Any form of tobacco has the potential to cause oral cancer.
  • Alcohol consumption is not the cause but risk factor associated with oral cancer. Rate of occurrence of oral cancer is twice in alcohol consumers as compared to nonconsumers.
  • HPV (Human papillomavirus) infection increases the risk of oral cancer, especially in young people.
  • Chronic irritation from ill-fitting dentures, Sharp tooth, defective fillings irritating mucosa can also lead to oral cancer.
  • Cases with Exposure to sun’s UV light has also been reported with increased risk of Lip cancer.

How can we prevent it?

  • Avoid tobacco in all forms. Also, avoid areca nut and betel nut with paan consumption.
  • No alcohol intake.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • In case of even the slightest abnormality (red/white/mixed patch, persistent ulcer, growth, etc.) in the oral tissues, consult your dentist immediately!
  • Get your sharp teeth, ill-fitting dentures, defective restorations corrected by your dentist.

How is Oral Cancer diagnosed?

Oral cancer needs to be diagnosed as early as possible to ensure its treatment on time. It can be diagnosed as follows:

  • Case history, Medical history, General and oral examination
  • Invasive tests like Biopsy, Cytology, FNAC (Fine needle aspiration cytology)
  • Imaging tests like X-rays, MRI, CT scan, PET scan are usually done to confirm the diagnosis.

Is there any Treatment for Oral Cancer?

Yes, Oral cancer can be treated if diagnosed on time. Treatment of oral cancer depends upon the severity of the disease and certain patient and physician factors. At the early stages, treatment involves one or a combination of the following modalities:

  • Surgery
  • Radiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy

At Advanced stage-

  • Untreatable.
  • Only palliative/supportive treatment is provided.