Patient discussion about mouth cancer

!!! The questions and answers on this page are written by patients and are not reviewed by health professionals.

Q. What is Mouth cancer?

My grandfather has been diagnosed with mouth cancer. What is it? Is it dangerous?
A1Cancer of the mouth is dangerous as are all cancers. The earlier this cancer is detected, the better the survival rates are. If the cancer is caught in the first stage the survival rates can go up to 90% of patients surviving five years and most of these will be cured.
A2Cancer of the lip, tongue, gums and floor of the mouth are the most common types of mouth cancer. Less often it involves the inside of the cheeks or the palate. It may also start in one of the salivary glands, or spread to the mouth from surrounding areas such as the throat or nose.

Q. What are the symptoms of mouth cancer?

I have an ulcer in my mouth that won't go away, could it be cancer?
A1Have you had this ulcer for a long time? over 3 weeks?
If so, consult your GP however don't be alarmed as it isn't necessarily cancer, though it's always better to check it out and not neglect it.
A2The symptoms for cancer of the mouth are:
an ulcer or sore in your mouth
a red or white patch in your mouth
an unexplained pain in your mouth or ear
an unexplained lump in your neck
a sore or painful throat
a croaky voice or difficulty swallowing

See your doctor or dentist if any of these symptoms last longer than three weeks.

Q. What is radiotherapy?

My Grandfather had a surgery to remove a cancerous tumor on his cheek. He now needs to undergo radiotherapy. What is this? what are its side effects?
A1Generally, radiotherapy causes tiredness and sore, red skin in the area being treated. This is a bit like sunburn. Radiotherapy to the neck can damage the thyroid gland. Other side effects include: a sore throat- due to mouth ulcers, pain on swallowing,
a dry mouth- due to damage caused to the salivary glands (which are in charge of making the saliva), taste changes, a hoarse voice and effect on the sense of smell.
A2External radiotherapy is the use of high-energy rays from a machine with beam that can be aimed as accurately as possible to damage the cancer cells and stop them spreading.
It affects only the cells in the treated area. It can also be used after surgery to make sure that all the cancer has been removed.
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