Published on 23. February 2020

The undetected

There are diseases that only become known because a celebrity is affected by them. One example is oral cavity carcinoma, which recently claimed the life of the well-known actor Jan Fedder. If it is discovered at an early stage, it is usually curable.

Facts

1. signs of oral cavity cancer are often ignored, therefore the diagnosis is late.
2. about half of those with oral cavity cancer have a 5-year survival rate.
3. contacts for a consultation are the dentists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, ENT physicians and dermatologists.

Very often, mouth and throat cancer remains undetected for a long time. Symptoms such as hoarseness, sore throat and ear pain, irritating cough or even stabbing pain are misinterpreted or downplayed. But changes in the mucous membrane, open spots or ulcers in the mouth that last longer or grow must be taken seriously! Cancerous ulcers can develop anywhere on the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat - on the lip, tongue, palate, inside the cheeks, or in the region of the tonsils - and about 90 percent of them are on the surface. They are dangerous and tend to form daughter tumors, metastases, even in the early stages. According to the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, around 10,000 people in Germany develop oral and pharyngeal cancer every year. Three quarters of them are men, mostly between 55 and 65 years old. Among them, this type of cancer ranks seventh among all malignant tumors. Women are mainly diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 75 and are now increasingly affected. Currently, the incidence of the disease is also increasing in younger people, and overall the incidence of cancer of the mouth and pharynx is rising worldwide.

Risk factors and treatment

Around 90 percent of the patients are long-time smokers. Excessive alcohol consumption is also conspicuous in many sufferers. Alcohol and nicotine abuse are thus among the most important risk factors. These also include poor oral hygiene, an unbalanced diet low in vitamins, high consumption of meat and fried foods, mechanical irritation such as chronic pressure sores, genetic predisposition, viral infections, especially human papilloma viruses (wart viruses) and fungal infections. Treatment of oral cavity cancer depends first on the extent of the disease. What is the nature of the tumor, how far has it already spread, and where is it located? The decision to undergo surgery, radiation treatment and chemotherapy and the question of which treatment is best in terms of its risks and benefits should be discussed in detail by those affected with their attending physicians.

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