What is Oral Cancer?
Cancer occurring in the tissues of oral cavity (begins at the lips and extends backwards to the front part of the tonsils) or oropharynx (part of the throat) is termed as oral cancer.
Oral Cavity 
Different parts in your oral cavity
India has one third of oral cancer cases in the world .
Oral cancer accounts for around 30% of all cancers in India .
Oral cancers in India (Globocan, 2012) :
New cases: 77,003
In general, more men suffer and die from oral cancer than women .
Signs and Symptoms 
Some of the above signs and symptoms may also be present in benign tumors of oral cavity as well as in other diseases or cancers. However, if they persist for more than 2 weeks, one should consult a doctor for further evaluation.
Diagnosis and Tests 
a. Medical history, General physical examination and Oral examination
A thorough history is taken before the examination regarding duration and frequency of tobacco use in any form like cigarette, beedi, chewing pan, gutka, khaini etc and of alcohol consumption.
Oral examination: A careful examination of entire inner cavity of the mouth which includes the roof of mouth, back of the throat, and inside of cheeks and lips is then carried out. The doctor looks for red or white patches or any other abnormal areas over head, neck or face. He/she also examines for any lumps, swelling or any other problem with the nerves of mouth or face. If any abnormal area is found during examination, it is confirmed by further tests which are detailed below.
b. Invasive tests:
c. Imaging tests: Imaging tests are done to confirm the diagnosis, document the extent of spread of disease, staging etc. The most common diagnostic imaging tests are X-rays, CT scan, MRI and PET scan.
d. Other tests:
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Testing: Oral cancers with HPV infection are on the rise. Doctors may test the biopsy sample for the presence of HPV infection as the possible cause.
Early detection of oral and oropharyngeal cancers 
Many cancers of the oral cavity have a long early pre-cancer period which provide an opportunity to seek medical help through symptoms. Early detection of these cancers is possible during routine general health check-ups/screening by doctors/dentists/health workers or by self-examination.
Physical Examination of Oral Cavity
If symptoms persist for more than two weeks or if you detect any abnormal area on self examination, you should consult your doctor. He or she would take your medical history and exposure to risk factors. Then the doctor will examine your mouth carefully for any abnormal area and feel for any lump or for any other lesion with a gloved finger.
Oral Self Examination
You can examine your mouth yourself by looking at your mouth with the help of mirror in bright light, for early detection of oral cancers.
Procedure for oral self- examination 
Other tests: In addition to this clinical examination, a few other simple tests may be performed. The doctor may use simple dyes like toluidine blue with or without a focus light to look for abnormal areas, especially if you have a history of risk factors exposure.
If any abnormal areas are detected, the doctor may perform cytology or biopsy to rule out a cancerous lesion.
If the pathologist confirms that you have cancer, then your doctor will refer you to a specialist for further management.
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