​Mouth Cancer

Mouth cancer describes cases where a tumour forms on the surface of the tongue, lips, roof or floor of the mouth, inner lining of the cheeks or gums.

If you are able to detect unusual changes or a lesion in your oral cavity that persists beyond two weeks, it may be symptomatic of mouth cancer. You may notice that the lesion or patch is either red or white in colour. You may also notice the onset of an ulcer in your mouth that is not cured with medication. While ulcers are not always painful, you may feel discomfort during chewing or swallowing. The discomfort usually extends to the tongue and the jaw, which may feel stiffened. The swelling may cause loose teeth and may lead dentures to fit poorly. Upon inspection, you might notice thickening of the skin on the inside of your mouth, often culminating into a lump in the later stages of the cancer. Your mouth may also start to feel numb and you may frequently experience complaints of bad breath. Your throat may feel sore most of the times, or you may feel that something is stuck in your throat. You might also notice changes in your speech, with your voice becoming huskier, your words slurring and difficulty in pronouncing some words.
If you notice an unusual patch (either coloured red or white) in your mouth, particularly on the inside of cheeks or on the floor of the mouth, get it medically examined by doctors working with the Eye and ENT Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital. White patches are also symptomatic of a fungal infection. However, if the lesions are accompanied with oral pain, it may point towards mouth cancer. If you are experiencing numbness in the mouth that persists, make an appointment with the doctor working with the  Eye and ENT Service Line.
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so makes sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

To diagnose the probability of mouth cancer, your doctor will begin by asking about your symptoms and the incidence of cancer in your family. You will then undergo a physical examination where the doctor will examine your affected area, particularly your oral cavity, for swelling and soreness and possible causes of the inflammation. He or she will use gloved fingers to feel for any lumps along the inside of your mouth. He or she will also conduct an indirect laryngoscopy, wherein they will examine the back of your throat using a mirror. The doctor will also feel for any swollen lymph nodes around the neck.

If ample evidence points towards cancer, you will be asked to have a biopsy for confirmation. Additionally, the doctor may also conduct a nasoendoscopy or panedoscopy, to look at your upper air passages through a tube inserted through your nose into the back of your throat.​

You will be given the option to choose from either of the treatments to counter the cancer: surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Surgery is the most common choice amongst patients, in case the cancer has not spread from the oral cavity. If the cancer has progressed to affect the lymph nodes, the cancerous nodes are also surgically removed, alongside surrounding healthy tissue. In case the cancer cells have spread, you can opt for radiation therapy. This treatment employs the use of high energy rays or particles that kill the cancer cells. You can also choose chemotherapy as a treatment for the cancer. This treatment employs the introduction of anti-cancer drugs either intravenously or orally. Chemotherapy is effective especially if the body has undergone metastasis.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.​