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How Fast Does Oral Cancer Spread?

October 5, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — coccosmile @ 7:47 am
particles flying toward a mouth

The American Cancer Society estimates that doctors will diagnose around 54,000 new cases of oral cancer in 2023, and that the same disease will account for over 10,00 deaths. It’s unfortunately a fairly common condition, and given its severity, being examined for it often is important.

This is also because it’s possible for oral cancer to spread to other parts of the body. If the cancer metastasizes, the condition becomes much more dangerous, so here’s what you should know about how quickly that can happen.

How Does Cancer Spread?

When cancer initially develops, its cells clump together to form a tumor. While the cancer may remain localized to this primary tumor, it may also split off of this growth. Its cells can then be carried by either the bloodstream or the lymphatic system elsewhere in the body, where they may find a new area to grow. In the case of oral cancer, this is typically the lungs or in the lymph nodes surrounding the throat.

How Quickly Does Oral Cancer Metastasize?

The nature of cancer means that it’s not possible to set up an exact timeframe for when you can expect the condition to spread. That said, some varieties of cancer metastasize faster than others.

Most oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, which are flat, scale like cancer cells. These tend to be relatively fast growing and can spread quickly to the rest of the body.

Signs of Oral Cancer

Given how quickly the condition can spread, it’s vitally important that you be vigilant for the signs of the condition, and that you get checked for it often.

Most dentists will perform an oral cancer screening at regular checkups, so attending your biannual checkups will help you catch this problem early.

In addition, you should talk to your dentist if you have a combination of some of the following symptoms.

  • Persistent mouth sores: Sores or ulcers that do not heal within two weeks.
  • Red or white patches: Red or white patches on the gums, tongue, tonsils, or the lining of the mouth.
  • Unexplained pain: Persistent pain or discomfort in the mouth, throat, or ear without an obvious cause.
  • Difficulty swallowing: Difficulty or pain while swallowing or chewing.
  • Changes in voice: Hoarseness or other changes in the quality of your voice.
  • Lump or thickening: A lump, thickening, or rough spot in the mouth or throat.
  • Numbness or tingling: Numbness, tingling, or loss of feeling in any part of the mouth, face, or neck.
  • Sore throat: A persistent sore throat that does not improve with time or treatment.
  • Loose teeth: Loose teeth or pain around the teeth and jaw.
  • Changes in dentures: Changes in the way dentures fit or discomfort while wearing them.
  • Swelling: Swelling, lumps, or bumps on the lips, gums, or inside the mouth.
  • Ear pain: Unexplained ear pain or discomfort.
  • Weight loss: Unintentional weight loss that cannot be attributed to other factors.
  • Bleeding: Unexplained bleeding in the mouth or throat.

About the Author

Dr. Dina H. Coco brings a warm, personable approach to her dental practice, and over the last 30 years she has managed to help thousands of patients get healthier, much more beautiful smiles. Dr. Coco received her degree from the University of Michigan, and continues to expand her clinical knowledge with the Michigan Dental Association, the American Dental Association, the American Association for Women Dentists, and the Academy of General Dentistry.

If you have any questions about oral cancer, she can be reached at her website or by phone at (734) 668-8636.

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