Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What are the symptoms of oral squamous cell carcinoma?"
I am 34 and think I may have oral cancer. What symptoms wuld I be exhibiting?
Let me start by saying that I am sorry to hear that you are worried that you may have an oral squamous cell carcinoma. As you probably know already, squamous cell carcinoma is the most common malignancy within the head and neck. The most common causes have classically been thought to be smoking (number 1 cause) and excessive alcohol use (second most common cause). However as of recent there has been a significant amount of research that has shown that there is a virus called the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that may be contributing to the formation or oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cells are the flat cells that line the oral cavity and oropharynx. Speaking in very general terms, there has been some sort of genetic change that has taken place within some of these cells (can be caused by smoking, EtOH, or HPV, among other things) that results in their abnormal growth and lack of normal cell cycle. In very general terms, oral squamous cell carcinoma is typically characterized by abnormal firm growths, fissures, chronic ulcers, or submucosal fullness. Symptoms that raise the physicians suspicion that there may be a malignant process present include pain, pain with eating, pain with swallowing (odynophagia), dysphagia (abnormal swallowing), bleeding, referred otalgia (ear pain), and weight loss. I would definitely recommend that if you are worried about an oral lesion, or that you may have an oral SCC, that you make an appointment ot be evaluated by an otolaryngologist (ears nose throat) physician. I hope this helps.
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