What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer as a very common form of cancer characterized by an uncontrollable growth of cells that invade your oral tissues or cavities and can be critical for any person’s life if not diagnosed and treated in early stages.

This condition is part of a group of cancers called head and neck cancers. It can appear in any part of your mouth or throat, but most begin in the tongue, mouth’s floor and/or soft palate. This disease can affect anyone, but the risk of getting oralis higher if you are male, over age 40, and use tobacco, alcohol or have a history of head or neck cancer.

By detecting the early signs and visiting your dentist regularly, you can fight and win the battle against this deadly disease!

Oral Cancer Symptoms

  • White and/or red patches in your mouth or lips
  • A mouth or lip sore or blister that won’t heal (longer than 2 weeks)
  • Mouth bleeding
  • Loose teeth or change in the way they fit together
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • A lump in your neck
  • Frequent or persistent earaches

How can you help prevent it?

Follow these tips in order to maintain a healthy mouth, proper dental hygiene, and prevent this disease:

  • Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol use.
  • Regular dental check-ups with careful examination.
  • Finding and removing white and red spots before they become cancer.
  • Seeing your dentist for oral cancer screenings.

The condition is painless in its early stages, so if you detect any of these early warning signs, call your dentist immediately.

How dangerous is Oral Cancer?

In the United States approximately 35,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the American Cancer Society. About 25% of the affected people will die of the disease. The stage at which oral cancer is diagnosed is vital to the disease’s course; when detected at its earliest stage, it’s easier to treat and cure it; when detected late, only 50% of those diagnosed will survive more than five years.

Oral Cancer Treatment

The first thing we need to know is the stage of your disease to plan the best treatment. This may require lab tests, such as; an endoscopy, Dental x-rays, Chest x-rays, CT scan or an MRI. The choice of treatment depends mainly on your general health, location of the tumor, size of the tumor, and whether the cancer has spread.

We may refer you to a specialist, or you may ask for a referral yourself. Specialists who treat it include oral and maxillofacial surgeons, otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors), medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and plastic surgeons.

The treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Some patients may have a combination of treatments.


Surgery is a very common treatment for oral cancer. The tumor in the mouth or throat is removed; sometimes the surgeon also removes lymph nodes in the neck and/or other tissues in the mouth and neck. Patients may have surgery alone or in combination with radiation therapy.

Radiation Therapy

Radiotherapy is a type of local therapy which affects cells only in the treated area; it uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It is used alone for small tumors or for patients who cannot have surgery. It may be used before surgery to kill cancer cells and/or shrink the tumor. It also may be used after surgery to destroy cancer cells that may remain in the area. Doctors use two types of radiation therapy to treat oral cancer: External radiation (the radiation comes from a machine) or internal/implant radiation (the radiation comes from radioactive material placed in seeds, needles, or thin plastic tubes put directly in the tissue)


Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells. It enters the bloodstream and can affect cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy is usually applied by injection, which may be given in an outpatient part of the hospital, at the doctor’s office, or at home.

About The Author

Dr. Marine Martirosyan is a well recognized Cosmetic Dentist in Glendale, CA. She received her degree from the prestigious University of Southern California in 1996. Dr. Martirosyan was a clinical faculty member at University of Southern California. She is passionate about her profession and this is reflected through the beautiful smiles she creates. She strives to give her patients the smile of their dreams, and makes them look and feel great! She blends professionalism and a care to give you the smile you deserve. Dr. Martirosyan has high standards of care and attention to every detail in her work at her Glendale dental office, giving you a smile like no one else. She is an active member of American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, American Dental Association, California Dental Association, San Fernando Valley Dental Society. For more information on Dr. Martirosyan visit pacificdentalcare.org.

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