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Know More about Oral Cancer

The term ‘oral cancer’ refers to cancer which develops inside the tissues of the throat or mouth. Many oral cancers will develop within the squamous cells discovered inside the lips, tongue, and mouth. Oral cancers will be most often found after they’ve spread to the lymph nodes in the neck. Oral cancers involve cancers of the tongue, lips, floor of the mouth, cheek, soft and hard palate, throat, and sinuses. Your initial line of defense against an oral cancer is your dentist, as she or he often is the initial clinical provider to notice the clinical signs of oral cancer. Over 40,000 oral cancer cases will be diagnosed each year. The median age of individuals diagnosed with such cancer is over the age of 60, according to the NCI (National Cancer Institute).
Cancer which occurs in any region of the mouth; on the surface of the tongue, inside the lips and cheeks, on the gingival tissue, on the floor of the mouth, on the palate, the tonsils, and in the salivary glands, all fall into the category of oral cancer or mouth cancer.

Oral cancer also includes a form of head and neck cancer, and is often treated in a similar way to other neck and head cancers.

34,000 individuals in the United States are diagnosed with pharyngeal or oral cancer every year, and around 8,000 of those won’t survive the disease. In Wales and England, around 2,700 oral cancer cases are diagnosed per year. Oral cancer will kill around 920 individuals every year in Wales and England. It will affect more males than females.

Causes of Oral cancer

Cancer begins as the structure of the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) changes – it’s a genetic mutation. Deoxyribonucleic acid offers the cells a fundamental set of directions, similar to a computer program for a lifetime. The directions inform cells when they should reproduce, grow, and die, amongst other things. As there is a genetic mutation, the cells will grow in an uncontrolled way, ultimately causing a tumor.

If this cancer is left unchecked it will grow and ultimately spread to other areas of your body, typically via the lymphatic system - a group of glands or nodes which are found throughout your body. These lymph glands will produce most of the cells of your immune system. From the lymphatic system cancer can spread to any place in your body and will invade organs, blood, and bones. These cancer cells continually reproduce, slowly occupying more space.

Cancer is ultimately the result of cells which uncontrollably expand and don’t die. Regular cells inside your body will follow an orderly pattern of growth and division, as well as death. The programmed cell death will be referred to as apoptosis, and as this process breaks down, the cancer starts to form. Unlike normal cells, the cancer cells don’t experience programmatic death and rather continually grow and divide. The result is a mass of irregular cells which grow out of control.

With time, oral cancer may initially spread to other sites in your mouth, then the head and neck, and ultimately to other areas of your body. Oral cancers usually begin inside the squamous cells (thin, flat cells) and will then line the lips, and inside of your mouth. They are known as squamous cell carcinomas.

Experts are not certain what causes these mutations within squamous cells which ultimately cause oral cancer.

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