Oral Cancer

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Oral Cancer

Being diagnosed with cancer is never an experience. However, you may react outwardly, inwardly it comes as a huge shock to a person. It feels as though a person’s world has fallen off its axis. This is especially true for cancers that are more difficult to remove via surgery or more invasive procedures. One such type of cancer is oral cancer. Oral cancer, while possible to treat in the earlier stages, often only gets caught in the later stages when cancer has spread to the other parts of the body. Often the only chance a person may have is if the illness is treated and managed early.

While talking about oral cancer is not easy, given how bleak the prognosis looks, talking about it becomes crucial in a country like India. This is because oral cancer is among the most common types of cancer found among Indians, given how common tobacco use is here. But this does not mean all things need to be difficult. When found early, oral cancer treatment is about 84% effective. What becomes important then is getting the right treatment at the right time. This can happen most easily if you have critical illness insurance. Having the right health insurance policy means that you do not need to worry about anything other than making a full recovery.

If you are looking for a health insurance plan that is effective, easy to use and comes with great features, you are looking for a plan from Tata AIG. Our affordable health insurance policies provide unparalleled coverage and the ability to customise your plan with add-ons per your requirements. When you buy critical illness insurance from us, you can be at ease knowing that whenever you have a health requirement, we will step in to assist you in any way you need. So whenever you need critical illness insurance, always choose Tata AIG.

With this said, let us know more about oral cancer, oral cancer causes, oral cancer stages and the types of oral cancer.

What is Oral Cancer?

The general name for cancer that concerns the interior of the mouth is oral cancer, sometimes also called mouth cancer. Doctors may usually understand that you have oral cancer when it manifests as white patches or bleeding sores on the lips or inside the mouth. The fact that these changes persist sets prospective cancer apart from usual problems. If oral cancer is not addressed, it can spread from the mouth and throat to certain other parts of the neck and head. People diagnosed with mouth cancer usually have a prognosis of five-plus years.

Early detection makes treating oral cancer simple. But for most patients, the diagnosis comes too late for effective treatment. You'll have a far higher chance of receiving an early diagnosis if you visit your doctor or dentist frequently and understand to recognise threatening symptoms. The oropharynx and mouth are both affected by oral cancer. Whenever the mouth is open wide, you can see the base of the throat, the ceiling of your mouth, and some of your tongue. This is called the oropharynx. Oropharyngeal carcinoma is a cancer of the oropharynx.

Types of Oral Cancer

There are various types of oral cancer a person may have depending on how the disease looks under a microscope or which part of the mouth the cancer is in. Knowing what type of oral cancer you have is very important as it will decide the course of treatment you need. If you understand the different types of oral cancer, you will understand what your doctor is telling you more clearly and may be able to clear any doubts you have.

Squamous Cell Cancer- Squamous cell carcinomas account for more than 90% of oral cavity malignancies. Squamous cells, which seem flat and resemble fish scales, border the mouth and neck in typical circumstances. If the squamous cells alter and become aberrant, squamous cell cancer develops.

Verrucous Cancer- Verrucous carcinoma is a relatively slow-growing carcinoma composed of squamous cells that make up about 5% of oral cavity malignancies. Although it seldom does so, this particular form of oral cancer may infect adjacent tissue.

Lymphoma: Lymphoma refers to oral tumours that arise in lymphatic tissue, an immune system component. Lymphoid tissue can be found in the tongue's base and the tonsils.

Oral Melanoma: A rare malignancy with a dismal prognosis is oral melanoma. Malignant alterations in a patient's melanocytes result in oral melanoma. The substance melanin, which provides the skin with its colour, is produced by these cells. Nevertheless, the mucosal layers of the oral cavity and other body parts also contain melanocytes. Approximately 80% of oral melanomas form in the upper jaw's mucosa, more frequently in the upper jaw. But it can also affect the tongue, lips, or inner cheeks.

Oral Cancer Stages

Cancer's **Stage can be determined with the aid of diagnostic testing. A **Stage represents where cancer is and if it has spread or infiltrated the top of the region where it was discovered. Additionally, tests look to see whether the disease has spread to other parts. Your doctor will not be able to start treating you until you know your disease **Stage. While treatment is easier and more effective in the earlier **Stages, treatment becomes much more difficult as the **Stages progress.

Healthcare professionals utilise staging data to suggest treatments and estimate patients' chances of recovery. Utilising the TNM method, oral malignancies are **Staged. T refers to the primary tumour's size and position. N means that your lymph glands have been affected by the tumour. A tumour that has started to spread, or metastasise to other parts of the body, is indicated by the letter M.

We have put together the different oral cancer **Stages for your convenience.

Stage 1 The tumour is 2 centimetres (cm) or less, and the lymph glands have not yet been affected by cancer.

Stage 2 The tumour is 2-4 cm in size, and the lymph nodes are free from cancerous cells.

Stage 3 Either the tumour is more than 4 cm in size and has not yet metastasised to the lymph glands, or it is of any size and has metastasised to one area but not to other body sites.

Stage 4 Tumours of any size that have migrated to neighbouring tissues, lymphatic vessels, or other body areas due to cancerous cells.

Oral Cancer Causes

Oral cancers originate when tissues in the lips or mouth experience DNA mutations. The signals that inform a cell what it must do are encoded in its DNA. When regular cells stop expanding and dividing, mutations instruct the cells to keep doing so. A tumour might develop when the irregular oral cancerous cells accumulate. They may eventually expand from the lining of the mouth to certain other regions of the neck, spine, or entire body. Mouth cancers most frequently start in the smooth, delicate cells that border your mouth's lips and interior. Squamous cell carcinomas make up the majority of oral malignancies.

The alterations in these cells that result in oral cancer are poorly understood. But medical professionals have identified some elements that could raise the risk of oral cancer. If you understand what these risk factors are, there may be situations where you may be able to help things improve for yourself. We will be talking more about the risk factors to help you. However, you must remember that these risk factors do not indicate that you will get oral cancer. You may be exposed to several risk factors and never have the disease. Alternatively, you may not have any risk factors and still have oral cancer. Keeping this in mind, some risk factors can contribute to oral cancer.

Smoking or being exposed to tobacco smoke, consuming tobacco in any form and inhaling tobacco fumes can lead to oral cancer.

  • Being exposed to radon gas.

  • Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol.

  • Being exposed to Human Papillomavirus.

  • Having a very weak immune system.

  • Living in tropical areas and having your lips exposed to the sun.

  • Being over the age of 40.

  • Men are more prone to getting oral cancer than women.

  • Not following oral hygiene.

  • If someone in your close family circle has oral cancer, you may be more prone to getting the disease.

  • If you are exposed to any of these risk factors, it always helps to get regularly checked by your doctor and check for symptoms. And now that we understand some oral cancer causes and risk factors let us look at oral cancer symptoms.

Oral Cancer Symptoms

Understanding the symptoms of a disease is always the first step towards treatment. Unless a patient understands what is wrong with them and feels the need to go to a doctor, their road to recovery does not start. And as we have discussed, if the cancer diagnosis gets delayed, a patient's chances of recovery steadily decrease. Thus, there are oral cancers you need to be aware of and look out for if you are at risk of getting the disease.

Some signs are clear indicators of oral cancer.

Leukoplakia: These are smooth, grey or white patches in the mouth or throat.

Erythroplakia: These red areas may be flat or slightly elevated. When scratched, these spots might bleed.

Erythroleukoplakia: Red and white spots in the mouth are called erythroleukoplakia.

Barring these are some more typical warning indications and symptoms that could sometimes also indicate other diseases.

Lip or mouth lesions that bleed frequently take longer than two weeks to heal.

Areas of roughness inside your mouth, on the tongue, gums and lips.

Unpleasant mouth odour no matter how much you clean your mouth.

Parts of the mouth start bleeding without any apparent cause.

Unknown causes of numbness, pain, or soreness in your jaw, on the face, or in the neck.

trouble speaking, shifting the jaw or lips, or having trouble chewing or eating.

Unanticipated weight loss.

Ear pain.

Oral Cancer Diagnosis

Your dentist will go for a diagnostic exam for oral cancer as a component of your regular dental examination. Your dentist has the greatest chance of recognising any cancer because they know what a normal jaw must look like. Beginning when you turn 18, experts advise getting tested every year and even earlier if you take up smoking or engaging in sexual activity. Your dentist will feel your throat, skull, cheek, mouth, and throat for any masses or unusual tissue changes. Your dentist will examine your mouth for any ulcers or discoloured tissue in addition to the previous indications and symptoms.

A biopsy can be required to learn more about the composition of a suspicious-looking region. Your doctor can choose the optimum sort of biopsy from various options available. Although brush biopsies are fairly simple, many clinicians don't utilise them since a brush biopsy is affirmative, a blade biopsy is still required to verify the findings. Additionally, several kinds of scalpel biopsies, including incisional and excisional ones, depend on if only a portion or the entire area is required to ascertain the problem's origin. Sometimes doctors use lasers to carry out these biopsies.

The most common types of diagnosis actions your doctor may take involve;

Physical Examination: Your doctor will look into the mouth from top to bottom and may also feel about your mouth. Your face, jaw, and neck will also be checked for possible precancerous or cancerous growths.

Exfoliative Cytology: Medical professionals gently scrape the affected area using a little brush or spatula to extract cells that will be analysed for malignancy. A portion of tissue will be cut out during an incisional biopsy so that cells can be obtained and tested for malignancy.

Pharyngoscopy: The doctor examines your throat, the root of your tongue, and a portion of the larynx using a tiny mirror on a slender, thin frame.

Laryngoscopy: Doctors may look at parts of the throat and mouth that aren't visible with mirrors by using an endoscope. A thin, pliable tube with a light and monitoring lens connected is called an endoscope.

Oral Cancer Treatment

There are various modes of oral cancer treatment your doctor may take depending on which stage your cancer is in and what symptoms you are displaying. If you are someone who has been diagnosed with oral cancer, it is always helpful to know from before what course of treatments your doctor may take as then you can mentally prepare yourself for the same. We have thus elaborated on some of the basic routes of oral cancer treatment your doctor may take to help you recover from the disease.

Surgery: Surgery to excise the tumour and malignant lymph nodes is typically the first line of treatment for the initial stages. It's also possible to remove additional tissue from the lips and neck.

Radiation Therapy: Another alternative is radiation therapy. For a given number of weeks, a doctor will direct radiation pulses to the tumour either once or twice daily, five days weekly. Chemotherapy and radiation are frequently used in the management of advanced phases of the disease.

Targeted Therapy: Another type of treatment is targeted treatment. Cancer's initial and advanced phases can see effects from this treatment. Drugs used in targeted therapy will connect to particular receptors on cancerous cells and stop the proliferation of the cells.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a form of medication used to treat cancer. You can receive the medication by mouth or intravenously. Although some patients need to be hospitalised, most get chemotherapy as outpatients.

Nutrition: A crucial component of managing oral cancer is nutrition. Poor appetite and losing weight are frequent side effects of several medications that make it unpleasant or hard to eat and drink. Talk to your doctor about your diet, as not eating enough can make a person sicker. You may create a meal that will be easy on your tongue and throat while still giving your system the energy, nutrients, and minerals it requires to heal by consulting a nutritionist

Prevention of Oral Cancer

Any person would like to find ways to keep cancer at bay and do everything in their power to keep themselves safe from the disease. While there are no guarantees where cancer is concerned, you can do a few things to keep the onset of the disease at bay. You should especially pay attention to these if you are exposed to risk factors leading to the disease.

  • Avoid using tobacco substances, don't smoke, and only occasionally drink alcohol while drinking in moderation.

  • Consume a healthy diet.

  • Don't spend too much time in the sun. The likelihood of developing lip cancer rises with prolonged exposure, particularly in the lower lip. Apply UV-A/B-blocking sun protection products on your skin and lips whenever you are outside in the sun.

  • Get the HPV vaccine.

  • Have routine dental exams. People between 20-40 should get screenings every 3 years or so, and those over 40 should get screened yearly.

  • If there are people who have had oral cancer in your close family circle, you should inform your doctor about the same and get screened for oral cancer.

  • Stay fit by exercising daily and not letting yourself put on excess weight. If you have put on weight for any given number of reasons, you should try to lose weight and stay healthy.

Why Use a Health Insurance Policy

Getting critical illness insurance is always a good option, no matter how healthy you may think you are. The most important reason is that you do not wish to leave yourself in a position where you are vulnerable in any situation. Having a health insurance policy ensures that no matter the situation, you can get the care you need without worrying about other factors.

A few reasons why having critical illness insurance is a good idea are given below. Have a look at them to understand how a health insurance plan can be useful to you.

Peace of Mind- If you suffer from an illness like cancer, your procedures may require repeated trips to the hospital. If you possess critical illness insurance, your focus can stay on getting better by not having to worry about monetary issues.

Expenses- Everybody is aware of how costly healthcare is. Now factor in an illness like cancer, and a patient will need to be concerned about high medical costs that could keep increasing with each trip to the hospital. Nevertheless, you won't have to stress about paying for your medical care if you have health insurance because your insurance company will stay on top of it for you.

Cashless Hospital treatment: One of the biggest advantages of Tata AIG health insurance is that you don't have to worry about finding the cash up front and waiting to be reimbursed afterward. We handle the costs up to your policy limit immediately and are hospitalised in a network hospital. We simply clear your bill directly without your involvement.

Emergencies: A person may get ill at any time, with no prior notice. They might be in a scenario where they should be admitted as soon as possible. When such events arise, and you have insurance, your attention can stay only on getting better rather than on making preparations.

How to buy Health Insurance Policy from Tata AIG

If you are in the market for a health insurance policy and have decided you want to go ahead with a plan from Tata AIG, you can get your insurance both online and offline. All you need to do is follow the steps given below and you should not have any trouble getting your policy.

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Offline- To buy your insurance from Tata AIG offline, you need to

  • Locate a local AIG office.

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Documents Required to Buy Tata AIG’s Health Insurance Policy

The documents you need to submit when buying insurance from Tata AIG are given below.

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Disclaimer / TnC

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Related Articles

Should I go to a dentist or a general physician if I doubt I have oral cancer?

Should I go to a dentist or a general physician if I doubt I have oral cancer?


You can go to either a dentist or your physician to get checked out if you doubt oral cancer. Both can help you with what you need to do next.

Can HPV lead to oral cancer?


Yes, HPV can lead to oral cancer.

What kind of health insurance is needed for oral cancer?


You should buy critical illness insurance to help combat oral cancer.

What should I do if I cannot eat while getting oral cancer treatments?


You should try to consume the nutrients and proteins required per day in whatever form you can. If you cannot consume solid foods, try ingesting more smoothies and shakes. If that is not possible for you, talk to your doctor and consider IV nutrition bags.