Cancer, as we all know, is characterised by an uncontrollable growth of cells that form a tumour or worse, spreads to other parts of the body. It is one of the most dreaded diseases in the world today and can affect any part of the body, including the mouth or the oral cavity. There are various types of oral cancer and each of them is different in the cells that constitute it.
What are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?
Before we learn more about the types of oral cancer, it is essential to understand what symptoms one is likely to experience if he/she is suffering from oral cancer.
The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:-
- A lump or thickening of oral tissues
- Eroded lips/gums/or other areas inside the mouth
- Development of white plaque or red speckles inside the mouth
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Pain or tenderness, followed by numbness in the mouth, on the face or neck
- Persistent sores or ulcers in the mouth that do not heal even after 2 weeks
- Hoarseness of voice, chronic sore throat
- In denture wearers, a sudden change in the way the denture fits
Another question apart from “what are the types of oral cancer” that occurs to many people is “who can get oral cancer?”
You will be shocked to know that it is the most common cancer in Indian men and is also the top 3 cancers that affect the Indian population. Yes, that is exactly how prevalent the cancer is and there are a good many reasons for this!
Types of Oral Cancer
Before we get to the reasons for the high prevalence of oral cancer in India, let’s understand the different types of oral cancer, based on the type of cell cancer begins in.
- Squamous Cell CarcinomaThis is the most common type of oral cancer and forms nearly 95% of all oral cancers. This type of cancer is made up of flattened cells that are abundantly found in the oral cavity.
These cells are lining cells and are found lining the throat and the mouth and when they turn cancerous, they give rise to squamous cell carcinoma.
- Verrucous CarcinomaThis is a type of squamous cell carcinoma but is slow-growing as compared to it. Among the various types of oral cancer, verrucous carcinoma forms 5% of all cases. This type rarely spreads to other parts of the body.
- Salivary Gland TumoursCancers that develop in the structure or the ducts of the salivary glands are called salivary gland tumours. These can be of various types such as adenoid cystic carcinoma, mucoepidermoid carcinoma and polymorphous low-grade adenocarcinoma.
However, these types of oral cancer are usually benign. Cancerous tumours in the salivary gland are usually adenocarcinomas and they start in the glandular tissues.
- LymphomaAs the name suggests, these cancers begin in the lymphatic channels or nodes. In the oral cavity, lymphomas usually occur at the base of the tongue and the tonsils.
A painless lump or swelling of a lymph node is the most common sign of lymphoma.
- MelanomaThese are characterised by pigment-forming cells that turn malignant. They can occur anywhere on the skin or inside the oral cavity. The most common melanoma of the oral cavity occurs on the lip.
- Benign Oral Cavity CancersSeveral types of oral cancer found are actually benign but can turn cancerous too. To prevent a benign tumour from becoming a malignant one, they are often surgically removed.
While these are types of oral cancer, there are two important pre-cancerous lesions that can develop in the oral cavity:
- LeukoplakiaIt is an abnormal white patch in the mouth characterised by abnormal cells that have still not turned cancerous. These abnormal cells indicate dysplasia and if allowed to continue without medical intervention, they have the full potential to turn into cancer.
- ErythroplakiaThis is a red patch in the oral cavity that bleeds very easily. Similar to leukoplakia, erythroplakia is also harmless and constitutes abnormal cells that become cancerous if the stimulating or causative factor is not removed.
Depending upon where the cancer is located, there can be different types of oral cancer:
- Lip cancer
- Tongue Cancer
- Inner Lining of the Cheek
- Cancer of the Floor of the Mouth
- Cancer of the Hard and Soft Palate
On a Concluding Note…
There are many reasons to why oral cancer occurs – smoking, tobacco chewing and exposure, ill-fitting dentures, Human Papilloma Virus(HPV) infection, familial history of oral cancer, genetic, poor nutrition and a weakened immune system. The treatment for each type of oral cancer depends upon the type of cancer, its stage, severity, spread and the overall health of the individual.
If you suspect any lesion in your oral cavity to be cancerous or pre-cancerous, visit your nearest Sabka Dentist Clinic today! Our team of dental experts will help you out with any other queries that you may have about the different types of mouth cancer.