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Oropharyngeal Cancer
Oral cancer – What is it?
Cancer is the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular disease and cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx accounts for 2.5% of all cases. Although oral and pharyngeal cancer is one of the most preventable of all cancers, the mortality rates are very high. The fact that it is most amenable to early detection emphasizes the importance of the clinician’s knowledge of risk factors and clinical manifestations for oral cancer.

Risk factors of Oropharyngeal cancer
Tobacco and alcohol have long been identified as major risk factors for oropharyngeal cancer and they may account for approximately three–quarters of all oropharyngeal cancers. The risk increases significantly when the heavy consumption of alcohol and smoking are combined. Some specifics on the risks of using tobacco are as follows: Signs and Symptoms of Oropharyngeal cancer
Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for the vast majority of all malignant cases of oropharyngeal cancer and usually occurs in a number of high risk areas. These include Squamous cell carcinomas are sometimes preceded by mucosal changes known as pre–malignant lesions. Therefore, it is important that the clinician recognizes that lesions such as leukoplakia, erythroplakia, lichen planus, oral epithelial atrophy and sub mucous fibrosis, have the potential to become malignant.

Early Squamous Cell Carcinoma may present as More advanced lesions are marked by indurations, ulceration, and fixation and mobility of teeth. The extensive spread to local structures may produce symptoms such as tongue immobility, trismus, pathological fracture and disturbance of sensory or motor function. Ulceration of the lesion will produce infection and reactive hyperplasia of regional lymph nodes.

Investigations for Oropharyngeal cancer
As the clinician conducts a thorough patient history, and extra–oral and intra–oral examinations of a patient, some of the clinical appearances of oral cancer may be observed. To attain a definitive diagnosis of an oral condition, diagnostic tests, such as an oral biopsy, should be conducted or the patient should be referred to appropriate specialists.

Indications for biopsy
Several generalizations can be made when performing minor oral surgical procedures and biopsies
Treatment of Oral cancer
The treatment of oral cancer, depending upon the site and extent of the primary tumor and the status of lymph nodes, may include surgery alone, radiation therapy alone, or a combination of the two.