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What is Oral Cavity Cancer?

The Florida Hospital Cancer Institute offers the latest and most effective treatment for oral cavity cancer in Orlando. Oral cancer is any kind of cancer found in the mouth, including the tongue, floor of the mouth, cheek lining, gums or roof of the mouth (palate).  This cancer often arises independently as a lesion. It is also known to arrive from other distant cancer sites by metastasis. Or it can develop from cancerous involvement with another nearby site.  The vast majority of oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, affecting the tissues that line the mouth and lips. These malignancies usually spread very quickly and early detection is paramount. For more information about treatment for oral cavity cancer in Orlando, or to schedule an appointment, call (407) 303-1700 or click here to fill out an online assistance form.

Many oral cancers start out as white or red patches of cells (and other persistent sores) that take over two weeks to heal, and are often first discovered by a dentist. Though helpful in early detection, appearances aren't reliable. Screenings are available to spot pre-cancerous tissues and a biopsy will determine a tumor's nature for certain.

Symptoms of Oral Cavity Cancer

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Hard or painful swallowing
  • Changes to the sense of taste
  • Painful, non-healing sore
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Risk Factors of Oral Cavity Cancer

Tobacco and alcohol account for 75% or more of all oral cancers. Alcohol (even in mouthwashes) acts synergistically with tobacco, and smokers who are also heavy drinkers are at the greatest risk.  

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the virus that's responsible for the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Oral cancers originating with HPV are usually on the tonsils, base of the tongue and top of the pharynx.

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Tests to Diagnose Oral Cavity Cancer

Once your physician has confirmed your diagnosis, the following tests may be recommended. These include computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and X-ray.

  • X-rays: Using energy beams that go through the body, an x-ray makes a picture of the inside of your body. 
  • CT scan (CAT scan): A CT scan takes a series of very detailed pictures of the inside of the body from different angles. 
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): This procedure uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed images of the inside of the body. 
  • PET scan (positron emission tomography scan): A procedure to find malignant tumor cells in the body. 
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Treatment for Oral Cavity Cancer

If the tumor is small, surgery is the most common recommendation. If the tumor is inoperable, radiation therapy may be advised. Chemotherapy can be used in combination with other treatments, but not usually alone. With so many vital structures in such close proximity, oral cancers are difficult to treat. The removal of cancerous structures often requires reconstructive surgery later, and might include an oral prosthesis. Speech and language rehab are usually called for.  If caught early, survival outcomes are very good.

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Request an Appointment

For more information about treatment for oral cavity cancer in Orlando, or to schedule an appointment, call (407) 303-1700 or click here to fill out an online assistance form.

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