An oral cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming news. However, it’s important to remember that you are not alone and there are several resources available to support your journey in fighting cancer. Also, there are important steps that you can follow to manage your life after receiving your cancer diagnosis.
What to Do After Your Oral Cancer Diagnosis
Since cancer diagnosis affects every aspect of your life, you need to make a treatment plan. Here are the steps that you should take after your early stage oral cancer diagnosis:
- Tell Someone Who Can Support You - Find and talk to someone who can support you throughout your treatment. This can include your spouse, family member, or a close friend.
- Understand Your Diagnosis - Prepare a list of questions that you want to ask your doctor. Learn about your cancer type, stage and other details that might impact your treatment and results.
- Research Treatment Options - Seek more information about your treatment options. Be sure to access only unbiased, reliable sources during your research.
- Consider a Second Opinion - Cancer treatment is complex, so each doctor’s approach to treatment may vary. Consider a second opinion to feel more confident about your treatment plan.
How Can You Take Care of Yourself?
Taking care of yourself and your needs is crucial during this time, and it should not be overlooked. Here are certain things that you can consider for yourself:
- Exercise a lot to de-stress yourself both mentally and physically. It will also help you to regain energy.
- Decide who will share your daily responsibilities. This will give you more time to focus on yourself and your treatment.
- Make sure you have your finances under control. You can even consult a financial planner for your health and treatment concerns.
- Keep your routine as normal as you can. Continue to pursue your current hobbies and interests.
How Fast Does Oral Cancer Spread?
It depends upon the stage and nature of the diagnosis. Also, it may vary from person to person because every individual has a different immune system, lifestyle, and age.
After oral cancer has developed, it takes a couple of months to spread to different parts of the mouth. Regular doctor visits are crucial to monitoring the cancer and the patient’s health condition.
What Are the Initial Signs of Mouth Cancer?
Regular checkups are crucial to detect the initial signs and symptoms of oral cancer. Some common symptoms may include:
- A persistent mouth inflammation
- Recurring mouth pain
- A lump in the cheek
- A white or red patch over gums, tongue, tonsil or mouth lining
- A persistent sore throat
- Difficulty in swallowing or chewing
- Pain in the teeth or jaw
- Voice changes
What Treatments Are Available for Oral Cancer?
Your treatment plan will depend upon factors such as the type, location, and stage of your cancer, your present health condition, and your treatment goals. Oral cancer treatment options include:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Supportive care
Consult your healthcare specialist about your treatment alternatives. Make sure you know the risks, benefits, and the results of each treatment to make the best decision.
What Are the Types and Stages of Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is a cancer that originates in the mouth or throat. The types of oral cancer include:
- Squamous cell carcinoma (the most common type)
- Verrucous carcinoma
- Salivary gland tumors
Various stages of oral cancer are:
Stage 0 (or carcinoma in situ)
The cancer is present only in the lining of the lips or oral cavity
The tumor is 2 cm or smaller, and the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes.
The tumor is between 2 cm and 4 cm, and the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes.
The tumor is bigger than 4 cm, or cancer has spread to one of the lymph nodes.
This is the most advanced stage, and the tumor is any size but has spread into:
- nearby tissues, like the jaw bone
- one large lymph node
- remote body parts, such as the lungs
Recurrent Oral Cancer
Recurrent oral cancer refers to cancer that has resurfaced after its treatment. It can also recur in other parts of the body. This is medically known as distant metastasis or distant recurrence.