Mouth cancer is caused due to rapid, uncontrolled growth of cells within the local region of your mouth. When cancer starts spreading to other areas of the mouth, neck, and head, the condition is referred to as metastatic mouth cancer.
In metastatic mouth cancer, the cells grow out of control due to mutation and destroy healthy cells in the vicinity. Cancer can also spread to other parts of the body using the circulatory or lymph node system in severe cases. In most cases, cancer is detected at a later stage that reduces the chances of survival.
Common signs and symptoms of mouth cancer
- A sore throat with persistent irritation is an indicator of developing cancer
- Open sores that bleed frequently in your mouth can indicate cell degeneration
- The unusual growth of muscle and tissue on the lining of your mouth
- Loose teeth indicate shifting due to damaged gums and surrounding muscle tissue
- Pain in your jaw as a result of tissue degradation
All these symptoms commonly affect your lips, gums, tongue, the lining, roof, and floor of your mouth. They are identifiable in the early stages of the condition when you go for a routine dental checkup. However, the symptoms are far more severe once cancer reaches the lymph nodes. Treatment at this stage often yields poor results as the body is unable to cope with the rapid cell growth and good tissue degradation
Diagnosis and treatment options for metastatic mouth cancer
A physical examination will reveal the abnormalities in your mouth. Diagnosis includes the removal of tissue for further analysis and laboratory testing to determine the extent of the damage. Sentinel node biopsy is a common and effective diagnostic procedure. The tests are done to determine the stage of mouth cancer as advanced stages of metastasis cannot be cured. Alternative methods for diagnosis include the use of the camera in endoscopy and imaging tests including X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans to determine viable treatment options.
The stage and location of the mouth cancer will also determine the type of treatment options to make the condition to a certain extent. In the earlier stages, surgery is a viable option to remove the tumor and reconstruct areas of your mouth due to cancer.
In advanced stages of cancer, medical professionals recommend radiation therapy that uses high energy beams to kill the cancer cells. Chemotherapy is an alternative to radiation and uses chemicals to destroy the cancer cells to prevent the mutation from spreading. Targeted medications are also used in combination with chemotherapy and radiation therapy to gradually destroy the cancerous cells.