What is oral cancer and how it gets treated?

What is oral cancer and how it gets treated?

What is oral cancer?

Oral Cancer Oral cancer is the third most frequent type of cancer after lung and breast cancers. If detected early, the survival rate is high. In fact, if diagnosed at stage I or II, the five-year relative survival rates are approximately 90%. 

However, late detection means that treatment options may be more difficult and less effective. Early symptoms of oral cancer include a persistent sore throat, ulcers in the mouth, redness or swelling of the lips and tongue, swollen lymph nodes under the jawbone (jaw tumor), difficulty swallowing, weight loss, fever, pain in the neck or shoulder region, hoarseness, and blood in the saliva. These symptoms should be taken seriously and seek medical attention immediately.


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There are several types of oral cancer treatment that can help people to get rid of cancerous cells. The oral cancer treatment cost may vary depending on the type of cancer treatment chosen by the doctor for a specific patient. Some of the main cancer treatments options are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy etc.

How does oral cancer occur?

The mouth is where we eat and drink, and it also contains several organs that help us digest food. It’s also home to many types of bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, and parasites. These organisms may cause infections of our mouth, throat, tongue, lips, gums, teeth, palate and tonsils. 

When these infections become chronic, they can lead to serious health problems. In some cases, certain oral cancers or precancerous conditions develop and progress slowly over time. Oral cancer is the sixth leading type of cancer worldwide. More than 90 percent of oral cancers are linked to tobacco use, alcohol consumption, poor diet, or HPV infection. Other factors that increase your risk include:

Genetics (a family history)

Chronic irritation (e.g., from smoking, chewing betel nut, using a hard toothbrush, etc.)

A weak immune system

Poor dental hygiene


Use of recreational drugs

Radiation exposure (from X-rays)

Use of chemical products (including pesticides, herbicides, cleaning agents, etc.)

Certain medications


What is the recommended screening test for oral cancer?

Your primary care physician should perform a yearly oral examination and ask about any changes in your mouth or head and neck area. Early detection is critical, especially if the disease is caused by HPV. Your doctor may recommend a visual exam and/or a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Ordering from Canadian Pharmacy Online is super convenient and easy! We take your privacy, health and safety seriously.

If you have been diagnosed with precancerous lesions, your physician will recommend regular follow-up visits to monitor the condition. Regular exams are particularly important if you smoke or chew betel nuts. You may need additional tests depending on what stage of the disease you are at.

What are oral cancer treatments?

  • Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancerous tumors. Chemotherapy is divided into two types; systemic and local. Systemic chemotherapy is a pill that goes throughout your body and is administered orally. Local chemotherapy is given directly where the tumor is located, either through injection or pills. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Oral chemo is not always effective due to stomach acid breaking down the medication. Local chemo is often less severe than systemic chemo, but it is harder to administer and may cause side effects. However, both treatments can prolong survival and improve quality of life.

  • Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses radiation to kill cancer cells. There are three forms of radiation therapy; external beam radiation therapy, brachytherapy (also known as interstitial radiation), and intra-operative radiation therapy. External beam radiation therapy is done externally and delivers high doses of radiation to the tumor site. Brachytherapy is internal and delivers lower doses of radiation directly to the tumor site. Intra-operative radiation therapy is used to deliver radiation immediately after surgery. All three therapies can destroy cancer cells and prevent them from spreading.

  • Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is the administration of immune system enhancing agents to boost the body’s own defenses. There are four types of immunotherapies: vaccines, cytokines, monoclonal antibodies, and cellular therapy. Vaccines stimulate the body’s immune system to fight off foreign invaders. Cytokines are proteins produced by white blood cells called lymphocytes. Monoclonal antibodies produced bind to specific antigens on cancer cells and mark them to be identified. Cellular therapy involves the infusion of genetically engineered T cells that specifically target cancer cells.

  • Targeted Therapies

Targeted therapies are medications designed to attack certain aspects of cancer. These include monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Monoclonal antibody therapy uses targeted molecules to attach to specific cancer cells. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors block enzymes inside the cancer cells that are responsible for signaling pathways. The goal is to stop cancer cells from dividing and proliferating.