Oral and Oropharyngeal cancer – Causes, symptoms and treatment

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Cancer that develops in any part of your mouth is referred to as Oral (mouth or oral cavity) cancer. Oral Cancer can develop on lips, tongue, gums, inner cheek tissues, the roof and floor of the mouth and oropharynx.

Cancer is a condition where uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells is found. Cancer can occur in any part of your body and can spread from one part to another. People of all age groups are affected by cancer.

The development of cancer in the Oral or mouth cavity is referred to as Oral Cancer. So, cancer that develops on your Oropharynx is also referred to as Oral Cancer.

What is oropharynx?

The Oropharynx is part of your oral cavity. The Oropharynx includes the following, soft palate, side and back walls of your throat, tonsils and the back one-third of your tongue.

What is Oropharynx Cancer? 

The cancer cells that are developed in any part of your Oropharynx are referred to as Oropharynx Cancer. The middle part of the pharynx is called the oropharynx.

What are the causes of Oropharynx Cancer? 

To gain knowledge about the causes, first, understand there are no such clear causes for cancer as they are the mass buildup of abnormal cells. However, some factors induce the growth of cancer cells. The cancer-inducing factors include:

  • Smoking and tobacco
  • Heavy consumption of alcohol
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Genetic syndrome
  • Infectious with human papillomavirus (HPV)


Do not hesitate to consult your doctor if you think you are at risk.

What are the symptoms of Oropharynx Cancer?

If you are diagnosed with Oropharynx Cancer you may suffer the following symptoms:

  • Sore in the throat and mouth
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Pain while opening the mouth
  • Ear pain
  • Coughing up blood
  • Pain or bleeding mouth
  • Difficulty in chewing or moving the jaws and tongue
  • Bad breath
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite (at last stages)

How is Oropharynx Cancer diagnosed? 

The first step of diagnosis is to consult a doctor. Your body will intimate you with symptoms that indicate the need for medical care. You will discuss your medical history and the symptoms that you have with your doctor. The following diagnosis method may be used:

Physical examination:

A general health check-up to look for the symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes. The doctor goes for a complete oral cavity examination of the mouth, neck, tongue and throat.


In this procedure, a small tissue from the affected areas is taken from your mouth as a sample for examination. The tissue sample is sent to the lab to check for suspicious cancer cells.


Endoscope (the thin and soft tube which has a camera and light at the end) will be passed through your mouth and processed further into your throat to check for the severity of your cancer. The endoscope helps to check if cancer has spread and if so, how long it has spread.

Imagery tests:

PET (positron emission tomography) scan, CT scan, MRI and X-rays are used to produce picture images of your body. With the help of the picture images, the location, size and severity of your cancer can be easily identified.

Follow the advice of your doctor. If the above-mentioned test confirms your diagnosis of Oropharynx Cancer, the following test is used for further diagnosis and treatment.

HPV (human papillomavirus) test:

A test used to check for HPV infection. HPV infections can cause oropharyngeal cancer, which is why this test is necessary.

What is the treatment for Oropharynx Cancer? 

The treatment of your Oropharynx Cancer depends upon the stage and severity of your cancer. The other factors that determine your cancer treatment also include age, current health condition and other health complications. Surgery is the preferred method for Oropharynx Cancer and especially for those people with HPV.

Radiation therapy:

The procedure where radiation is used to kill the cancer cells and to prevent them from recurring. The radiation therapy method is used for all stages of cancer.


It is the process when your own body is used to kill the cancer cells with the help of anticancer drugs.


The processes where your surgeon may remove or cut away the cancer cells through surgery.


Where your immune system is used to kill cancer cells.


Till today the causes of cancer are unknown, so it is better to be cautious about the risk factors. You will be unaware of the factors that induce the growth of Oropharynx Cancer. Do not wait until symptoms show up, practice regular check-ups once in six months. As they say, prevention is better than cure, practice proper oral hygiene and avoid tobacco, smoking and alcohol.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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