Have you experienced bleeding or numbness in your mouth or oral ulcers that won’t heal? These are just a couple examples that could be signs of oral cancer. To help us all stay aware, we’ll look more into the stages of oral cancer below.
The Stages of Oral Cancer
If you suspect oral cancer, an oral surgeon will examine and diagnose your symptoms. In such a case, there are several signs an oral surgeon will look into. A few include a hoarse voice, and difficulty swallowing or chewing. Signs also include patches in the lining of the tongue or mouth, usually white or red. If they spot something abnormal, they’ll perform a biopsy to send to the laboratory. This sample will undergo analysis, and from there your oral surgeon will be able to determine what is needed.
If the diagnosis is cancer, your oral surgeon may do imaging tests such as X-ray, MRI and CT. They may also perform an endoscopy. During this procedure, your surgeon will pass a small camera down your throat to see if the cancer has spread. This will help the oral surgeon know what stage the cancer is in and how to treat it.
When it comes to the stages of oral cancer, they are listed as 0-IV. The lowest number will indicate there are no cancer cells present in lymph nodes, or areas deeper in the tissue. In such a case, your oral surgeon may monitor the situation. Stage IV will indicate the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.
There are also terms oral surgeons use for oral cancer, such as “localized cancer,” which hasn’t spread to the other tissues. “Regional cancer” has spread somewhat and “distant cancer” has spread to other parts such as the lungs, etc.
Oral Cancer Causes
There is more than one reason a person may develop oral cancer. Most of the cancers of the mouth start in what are called squamous cells. These line the inside of your mouth and lips. Several risk factors include using snuff, chewing or smoking tobacco, excessive consumption of alcohol, HPV infection, etc. However, one major factor that can reduce your risk is a healthful diet.