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Oropharyngeal Cancer

Oropharyngeal Cancer Causes

Oropharyngeal cancer is caused by damage to the DNA in the cells within the mouth and throat areas. Certain risk factors that can lead to oropharyngeal cancer include: tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, and exposure to ultraviolet light.

Oropharyngeal Cancer Definition

Oropharyngeal cancer pertains to types of carcinomas occurring in the mouth, lips, tongue, gums, salivary glands, as well as parts of the throat located behind the stomach. It is also alternatively known as oral and throat cancer.

Oropharyngeal Cancer Diagnosis

Oropharyngeal cancer is rarely detected early because it exhibits symptoms that are similar to other conditions. The patient's medical history, signs and symptoms, and physical examination results are integral in initial diagnosis. For a more definite diagnosis, a biopsy is required. In addition, the following tests may be recommended to determine how far the cancer has spread: X-rays; Computerized tomography (CT) scans; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans; and ultrasounds.

Oropharyngeal Cancer Symptoms and Signs

An early sign of oropharyngeal cancer is the appearance of a pale lump inside the mouth that doesn't go away over time or a distinctive change in the way the mouth's soft tissues look and feel. Often, this carcinoma is painless in the initial stages, occasionally exhibiting symptoms that can be mistaken for other mild conditions such as a toothache. Common symptoms of oropharyngeal cancer include: soreness in the mouth that gradually increases; persistent pain in the mouth; lumps of white, red, or dark patches appearing in the mouth; thickening of the cheek; chewing and swallowing difficulties; swelling or pain in the jaw; pain around the teeth; numbness in the tongue or elsewhere in the mouth; changes in voices; lumps appearing on the neck; and bad breath.

Oropharyngeal Cancer Treatment

Oropharyngeal cancer can be treated with one or a combination of these methods: surgical removal of cancerous tumors; radiation therapy; chemotherapy; and the use of angiogenesis inhibitors to stop the growth of new blood vessels that supply the cancerous mass. Reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation therapy may also be integrated in the overall treatment.

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