Floor of the mouth cancer is a common type of oral cancer where the cancer cells usually metastasize in the tissue under the tongue, near the lower jawbone (i.e. mandible). It is a type of cancer that can be grouped under the head and neck cancer category and is often treated in a similar manner. This form of cancer generally originates in the thin, flat squamous epidermal cells that line the inside of your mouth or oral cavity. The oral cavity is the primary site of human verbal communication. But, apart from speech abilities, it is additionally required for bolus preparation and formation, recognition of taste, and deglutition. The cancer usually appears as a sore in the mouth cavities that do not go away easily.
Similar to other forms of cancer, the exact cause of the carcinoma of the floor of the mouth is yet to be discovered. But several studies and researches suggest that this form of oral cancer chiefly happens due to mutation in the genetic material of the thin squamous cells within the oral cavity that triggers the healthy cells to start growing and dividing abnormally leading to an accumulation of abnormal growth of cells that slowly forms a tumour. In the mouth, this type of cancer usually starts as a painless white patch, that solidifies, develops red patches, forms an ulcer or sore, and continues to grow without any signs of healing. With time, this cancer may gradually spread within the mouth and onto other parts of the head or neck and even throughout the body.
Certain causative factors that increase the risk of floor of the mouth cancer include:
Gender: Men are more at risk of this type of cancer than females.
Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits: Consumption of tobacco in various forms or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol increases the risk of floor of the mouth cancer.
Solar Damage: Extreme exposure to sun or tanning beds can make one prone to this type of cancer.
Family History Of Cancer: A family history of oral cancer or other types of cancer aggravates the risk of floor of the mouth cancer.
Hereditary Abnormality: Genetic syndromes or diseases increases the chances of getting diagnosed with this form of cancer.
Infections: Getting diagnosed with HPV (i.e. Human papillomavirus) strain increases the risk.
Weakened Immune System: Having a compromised immunity from birth or suffering from diseases like HIV or AIDS increases the risk of this type of cancer.
Diet: A poor nutrition or dietary insufficiency makes an individual more prone to floor of the mouth carcinoma.
There are hardly any noticeable symptoms in the initial stages, but the ones that gradually appear include:
- Ulcer or a sore on the lip or mouth that won’t heal easily
- Intense pain in the mouth
- Pain and difficulty in swallowing, chewing or speaking
- Loose teeth
- White or red patches in your mouth that won’t go away
- Bleeding in your mouth
- Lump or swelling in the neck
- Lump or thickening of the gums
- Swelling in the jaws
- Sudden drastic weight loss
Diagnosis And Treatment
If you notice any of the above-mentioned signs or symptoms, do get checked by an orthodontist right away. The specialized doctor will usually conduct an oral cancer screening exam by physically feeling the lump or sore or patchy irritated skin in the mouth, acknowledge the patient’s family and past medical history and conduct a few diagnostics including:
- Imaging techniques like Ct-scan, MRI-scan or PET-scan
- Evaluation of speech and swallowing
Just like any other carcinoma, floor of the mouth cancer is usually treated depending upon the type, location and particular stage of cancer. It usually involves:
- Radiation therapy
- Photodynamic therapy
- Reconstructive surgery
- Palliative care
Although there isn’t any proper way to prevent any type of cancer, still by following a few simple measures, one can reduce the risk of getting this type of oral cancer. These preventive measures include:
- Quit smoking, or using any form of tobacco
- Limit and gradually stop consuming alcohol
- Get regular dental check-ups
- Get immunised against HPV by taking proper vaccination
- Avoid excessive exposure to sun rays or use proper sun protectants before going out