Cancer is a disease that occurs when uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in the body occurs. These cells are referred to as cancerous and malignant. Oral cancer occurs on the lips (usually the lower lip), inside the mouth, salivary glands, tonsils on the back of the throat, esophagus, and the tongue and soft tissues of the mouth. It occurs more frequently in men than women, and is most likely to strike people over 40.
Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can also affect a patient’s dental health. Common symptoms include dry mouth; difficulty chewing, swallowing, tasting or speaking; tooth decay; a burning feeling in the mouth or throat; mouth sores; and infections in the mouth. During cancer treatment, oncologists and dentists should communicate to minimize the risk of oral complications and maximize efficacy of dental and supportive care.7