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Oral cancer and how to check if you have it

Everybody can suffer from cancer. Detecting malignant and premature mucosal changes early is crucial for the prognosis. Therefore, dentists should always examine their patients for changes that can develop into cancer, recommends Tom Sand, a surgeon at the University of Texas Hospital.

In the United States, up to 16,000 cases of oral cancer are detected annually, often by dentists, tells Tom Sand, who is researching oral cancer. Rising age increases the risk, like tobacco and alcohol.
– Always ask for tobacco and alcohol habits when taking an appointment, he advises.

He also recommends dental practitioners to do a standard investigation to find changes that are, or may develop into, cancer in the mouth. It only takes a minute.
– All patients should be examined each year. Then you easily see the difference when there is a change.

Look in the mouth bottom under the tongue, lift your lips, examine the cheeks, gums and throat. Pull out your tongue and look at the sides and on the tongue base.
“If you are careful, you should also palpate your tongue and mouthbone,” says Lars Sand.

Some cell changes can be detected earlier in palpation than during inspection. There will be a small hardening under the mucous membrane that forms a visible wound only afterwards.

Everything that differs should be noted in the journal.
-Photograph your changes too, as you will see how they look at the next visit.

Red and white spots
Almost all oral cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, an irregular new tissue formation. If you do regular surveys, you can find both squamous cell carcinoma and premature changes. Norway, a country known for science in the field, have invested heavily in examining patient constantly for oral cancer. There is a great article on the issue on Rommen Tannlegesenter.

As a general practitioner, you may see squamous cell carcinoma only a couple of times during professional life, but premature changes that sometimes develop into cancer are much more common.

The most important are erythroplasia, which give red spots, and leukoplakes that are white. Upwardly four percent of the population gets such changes, but it is not possible to say which ones become cancer and who do not.
-Error plaques are not so common, but they are often dangerous. Over half is or becomes cancer. If you find such a change, the patient should be immediately referred to the surgeon, or to the ears-nose-throat doctor, if there is no surgeon in the area, says Tom Sand.

Leukoplakier can look like harmless white spots, but about four percent develop into cancer. Because white spots are quite common, it is important to rule out other possible causes. Is there a sharp tooth or a damaged prosthesis that can be above?

If you think that such a thing may be the cause, you should correct it and check the patient again after a few weeks. If the wound is not on the improvement path, refer the patient.

Spicy food scorches
Oral lichen planus (OLP) is another type of premalign mucosa change that is reasonably common. Up to two percent of the population receive the OLP, and up to one percent of the OLP changes develop into cancer if not treated.

OLP changes have reticular and / or papillary structures. White plaque, redness and wounds may also occur. Patients with oral lichen planus often have trouble with strong spices, citrus fruits and the like.
“It’s easy to think that a change is not so dangerous, but it’s extremely sad if you miss something,” says Tom Sand.

The time aspect is very important. The forecast is much better if you find the change early, he points out.

If you are uncertain about the cause of a spot, you should therefore call the patient for a return visit after a few weeks and do not wait for the next audit visit. One year is a long time when it comes to oral cancer.

Great study going on
An American multicentre study on leukoplakes is currently under way. Eight surgery clinics in the country cooperate in the project. Patients are followed for five years to see what is happening.
“We hope to find out which leukoplakes develop into cancer,” says Tom Sand.

The goal is to identify different patient-related factors and tumor markers to see early the difference between patients who are in danger of getting cancer and those who do not.

How can we help? Prevention!

Accept what can’t be changed

You don’t want to change the unavoidable risk of growing older—because it certainly beats the alternative. You can’t change your family history—the moment is long past when your father’s sperm met your mother’s egg and created your particular mix of genetic information. Having had aggressive breast cancer already is also something you have no control over. And having already had breast biopsies that showed “atypical ductal hyperplasia” or“lobular carcinoma in situ” can’t be altered. You also have no control over when you got (or will get) your first period and when you went through (or will go through) menopause. Even though you can’t alter these risk factors, knowing which you have and what they mean are important first steps.

“Undo” your risk factors

But don’t lose hope. A number of significant risk factors CAN be “undone” to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

With a little or a lot of help, you should try to stop smoking—for good! Try to exercise on a regular basis, aiming for three to four hours a week. Anything you can do to relieve your stress and to enhance your comfort, satisfaction, and joy will have a major effect on your quality of life. So-called “mindful measures” (such as meditation, yoga, visualization exercises, and prayer) are valuable additions to your daily or weekly routine. Making some or all of these lifestyle changes will improve your overall health and possibly also reduce your risk of breast cancer.

You can minimize or eliminate sources of extra estrogen from your diet or environment Individual risk factors, with the following steps:

  • Stop alcohol consumption or limit it to no more than two alcoholic drinks per week (this increases your liver’s ability to regulate blood estrogen levels).
  • Restrict red meat and other sources of animal fat (this includes dairy fat in cheese, milk, and ice cream), because they may contain stored hormones or pesticides.
  • Try to stick to a relatively vegetarian diet.
  • Shed any extra pounds and try hard to keep those pounds off.
  • If you have already had breast cancer, avoid taking estrogen-like products such as menopausal hormone therapy and DHEA.
  • If circumstances allow, consider having children sooner rather than later in life.

Stages of Breast Cancer

Do you know what stage of breast cancer you have? Although learning where you fit in the scheme of breast cancer stages can feel like a jail term (“So now I guess I’m stuck at stage III”), this information is a key part of figuring out how you and your doctors will approach your treatment. The purpose of the staging system is to help organize the different factors and personality features of the cancer into categories, in order to:

  • best understand your prognosis (the most likely outcome of the disease)
  • guide treatment decisions
  • provide a common way to describe the extent of breast cancer for doctors and nurses all over the world, so that results of your treatment can be compared and understood.This stage is used to describe non-invasive breast cancer. There is no evidence of cancer cells breaking through to or invading neighboring normal tissue.

Stage I

This stage describes invasive breast cancer (cancer cells are breaking through to or invading neighboring normal tissue) in which

  • The tumor measures up to two centimeters, AND
  • No lymph nodes are involved.

Myths about Breast Cancer

Risk of Breast Cancer—The Myths

What is your risk of breast cancer? Which breast cancer treatment is right for you? What about antiperspirants and breast cancer?

What you don’t know CAN hurt you. Arm yourself with the facts. Don’t let misinformation keep you from recognizing and minimizing your own risk of breast cancer OR getting the very best possible care. Here are ten common myths about breast cancer, followed by myths about specific types of breast cancer treatment.

1. Breast cancer only affects older women


While it’s true that the risk of breast cancer increases as we grow older, breast cancer can occur at any age. From birth to age 39, one woman in 231 will get breast cancer (<0.5% risk), from age 40–59, the chance is one in 25 (4% risk), from age 60–79, the chance is one in 15 (nearly 7%). And the chance of getting breast cancer over the course of an entire lifetime, assuming you live to age 90, is one in 8, with an overall lifetime risk of 12.5%.

2. If you have a risk factor for breast cancer, you’re likely to get the disease.


Getting breast cancer is not a certainty, even if you have one of the stronger risk factors, like a breast cancer gene abnormality. Of women with a BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 inherited genetic abnormality, 40–80% will develop breast cancer over their lifetime; 20–60% won’t. All other risk factors are associated with a much lower probability of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

3. If breast cancer doesn’t run in your family, you won’t get it.


Every woman has some risk of breast cancer. About 80% of women who get breast cancer have no known family history of the disease. Increasing age – just the wear and tear of living – is the biggest single risk factor for breast cancer. For those women who do have a family history of breast cancer, your risk may be elevated a little, a lot, or not at all. If you are concerned, discuss your family history with your physician or a genetic counselor. You may be worrying needlessly.

4. Only your mother’s family history of breast cancer can affect your risk.


A history of breast cancer in your mother’s OR your father’s family will influence your risk equally. That’s because half of your genes come from your mother, half from your father. But a man with a breast cancer gene abnormality is less likely to develop breast cancer than a woman with a similar gene. So, if you want to learn more about your father’s family history, you have to look mainly at the women on your father’s side, not just the men.

5. Using antiperspirants causes breast cancer.


There is no proven impact on breast cancer risk from either reducing the amount of perspiration from your underarm area, or the active ingredient in antiperspirants. Much of the “explanation” given for this supposed connection is based on misinformation about anatomy and misunderstanding of breast cancer.

Who Gets Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer to affect women. In 1999, 175,000 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in American women. The good news is that 80% of these women had relatively early stage disease, which generally responds well to treatment. Every woman is at SOME risk for breast cancer—this is merely the “risk” of living as a woman. But there are many risk factors that can make one woman’s picture differ substantially from another’s. When you understand your own particular risk profile, you are in a better position to manage it and don’t have to fear the unknown.

Test your self!

How Breast Cancer Happens

Despite the many mixed messages women receive about their breasts, the basic truth is that the breast is a gland (a tissue structure that makes an important substance), and it has a job to do. The breast is designed to make milk in the lobules. It uses the milk pipes, or ducts, to drain that milk out to the nipple. Like all parts of your body, the cells in your breasts usually grow and then rest, grow and rest.

These periods of growth and rest are controlled by the genes in the cell’s nucleus, which is like the control room of each cell. When your genes are in good working order, they keep cell growth under control. But when your genes develop an abnormality, they sometimes lose their ability to control cell growth and rest.

Breast cancer is an uncontrolled growth of breast cells. Cancer has the potential to break through normal breast tissue barriers and spread to other parts of the body. While cancer is always caused by a genetic “abnormality” (a “mistake” in the genetic material), only 5–10% of cancers are inherited from your mother or father. Instead, 90% of breast cancers are due to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general.

Doctors quote:
“Just think about the many things that might cause the wear and tear that leads to abnormal cell growth—pollutants, hormones, pesticides, smoking, alcohol use, obesity, stress…. Or maybe your cells just made a mistake one day when they were making new genes to pass on to their baby cells. Perhaps there was a misprint in the genetic instruction manual that said switch ‘growth on’ instead of ‘growth off.’

While there are things every woman can do to help her body stay as healthy as possible (such as eating a balanced diet, not smoking, minimizing stress, and exercising regularly), breast cancer is never anyone’s fault. Feeling guilty, or telling yourself that breast cancer happened because of something you or anyone else did, is counterproductive.

Doctors quote:
“As soon as you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, you desperately try to figure out how it could have happened. You analyze your life a thousand times over, rack your brains searching for THE reason, beat your head against the wall, experience endless guilt. All you get is a headache. Drop it! Save your precious energy for your health and well–being.”

Personal quote:
“I was 41 when I was diagnosed,” says Bobbi. “I was thin, I worked out and ate healthy foods. I did everything ‘right.’ Everyone said ‘NO WAY! How can you have breast cancer?’”

More on breast cancer

Welcome to Breast Cancer Association of Clencoe

Hello and welcome.

We are a small and newly founded organisation for the continuous acknowledgement of breast cancer and how it effect women in society. We work  to increase the support of those struck by this disease. My name is Mary Anderson and i live in Glencoe, Cincinnati. This is also where our organisation will be focusing on. Thanks for reading this. Please reach out through the contact information.

/Mary and the team