Oral Cancer: When to seek medical help?

By  , Expert Content
Aug 30, 2012

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Oral cancer is a common type of head and neck cancer that is often diagnosed in advanced stage. Treatment for oral cancer in early stages can cure the disease in about 90 per cent of the affected people. However if diagnosed in its advanced stage  the cure rate decreases significantly. According to research 25 per cent of people with oral cancer die because of the delay in diagnosis and treatment. Besides death, if oral cancer is diagnosed late many patients have to face serious consequences of their treatment such as facial disfigurement, difficulty in eating, drinking and speaking. Early diagnosis and timely treatment can prevent many of these adverse outcome and death.

Consult your doctor if you have one or more of the following symptoms suggestive of some serious medical condition:

  • Any swelling/thickening, sore, growth, spots/crusts/or eroded area in any part of the oral cavity or lips which persists for more than a few days
  • Velvety white or red, or speckled (white and red) patch/patches in the oral cavity which persist for more than a few days
  • Recurrent bleeding from mouth
  • Any abnormal or change in sensation on the face, mouth or neck such as numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness
  • Sore or blister in the mouth or on the lip that bleeds or fails to heal in a few days
  • Lump in the throat i.e. a feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat.
  • Problem with chewing or swallowing, moving the jaw, speaking, or moving the tongue.
  • Change of voice such as hoarseness, or chronic sore throat
  • Recurrent or persistent ear pain
  • Loose teeth or malocclusion (i.e. change in the way teeth or denture fit)
  • unexplained weight loss

These are some common symptoms of oral cancer. But many of these symptoms can be caused by many other medical conditions. If you have one or more of these symptoms it does not mean that you have oral cancer. Consult your doctor or dentist if the symptoms last for more than three weeks. The health care professional can diagnose and treat the underlying cause.

Who to consult

Some health professionals who can be consulted if you have symptoms suggestive of pancreatic cancer include

  • family physicians
  • nurse practitioners
  • physician assistants
  • internists
  • dentist (a doctor who specialises in diagnosis and treatment of problems of oral cavity and teeth).



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