Oral cancer, also known as oral carcinoma, has a very high fatality rate. The high fatality rate is because oral cancer is frequently detected once it has already attacked another part of the body, often the lymph nodes in the neck.
Oral cancer is an especially problematic form of cancer because there is a considerably high risk for the original and primary tumor to produce additional primary tumors. This high risk for the enhanced production of tumors increases the chances that an oral cancer survivor will experience a second bout of cancer.
Oral cancer can easily go undetected in its initial stages, an additional factor that further complicates the already challenging prognosis. There may be no pain in the beginning stages of oral cancer, and only minor changes to the tissue inside the mouth, changes that often go unnoticed to the naked, untrained eye. Nevertheless, your doctor or dentist can easily detect these minor tissue changes, one of the many reasons it is so important to see a dentist or doctor regularly for routine oral examination.
When oral cancer makes its first appearance, it tends to look like a white or red discolored patch of tissue, much like the common canker sore or oral ulcer. However, while canker sores and oral ulcers tend to heal on their own, oral cancer does not. Instead, oral cancer tends to spread throughout the body until it has reached fatal proportions and reduced patients chances of full or partial recovery, and/or survival. For this reason, it is essential that a doctor or dentist examine all tissue changes or sores inside your mouth that do not heal within fourteen days.
Even if you do not notice any sores or tissue changes within your mouth, you may still have oral cancer. Signs and symptoms to look for include the following: difficulty swallowing, pain experienced while chewing or talking, a noticeable mass or lump felt in the mouth or neck, numbness in the mouth and facial region, an earache that persists or seems to recur, or a hoarseness that lasts for any extended period.
Seek immediate care from your doctor or dentist if you experience any of the above signs and symptoms.