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What is Oral Oncology?

Article Details
  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Oral oncology is an area of medicine which studies and treats cancers of the mouth and neck. Practitioners are generally specialists in this area rather than in cancer treatment as a whole. This is partially because oral cancers are not common and may be a result of certain specific conditions and risk factors. Doctors who study oral oncology are typically familiar with these risk factors and may have specialized knowledge on the effects these risks have on the body as a whole.

Most cancers of the mouth and neck are uncommon and are usually caused by behaviors of the patient. Smoking, chewing tobacco, and drinking alcohol are all activities that are associated with cancers of the neck and mouth. In some rare cases, these conditions may turn up in those who do not have any known risk factors. Most of these cases involve cancers in the lymph nodes located in the neck, however these may not be classified as oral cancers.

The practice of oral oncology aims to find the reasoning behind cancers of this region of the body, as well as to treat existing patients. Treatment of mouth cancer often include removing all or portions of tumors or lesions found in the oral cavity, as well as other treatments like radiation and chemotherapy.

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Neck cancer is also included in oral oncology. Non-lymphatic related cancers in this region often occur on the vocal cords. This can result in a removal of the cords and surrounding tissue. Patients are not able to speak after this operation, but may be able to communicate through voice simulating technology.

Since most mouth and neck cancers come as a direct result of poor health habits and harmful behaviors, the practice of oral oncology could be almost nonexistent if patients would avoid these substances. However, millions of people smoke cigarettes and other forms of tobacco and thousands more regularly use alcohol and recreational drugs. This has resulted in an increase in demand for oral oncology specialists, as an aging population presents more cases of cancer in this area of the body.

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