Jaw cancer: What to Know?

Jaw cancer

Jaw cancer is a type of cancer that affects the tissues of the jaw, including the bones and muscles in the area.

It is usually caused by uncontrolled growth of cells within the jaw and can be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous).

Symptoms of Jaw Cancer

  • Lump or swelling in the face, jawline, or neck
  • Pain or numbness in the face, jaw, or neck
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge from the mouth
  • Jaw pain, stiffness, or aching
  • Unusual looseness of the teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Hoarseness of the voice

Risk Factors of Jaw Cancer

Jaw cancer is a rare form of cancer that affects the jawbone or surrounding tissue. Several risk factors have been linked to an increased risk of developing the disease. These include:

  • Age: Jaw cancer is most found in people over the age of 60.
  • Tobacco and alcohol use: Heavy use of both tobacco and alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of developing jaw cancer.
  • Radiation therapy: Exposure to radiation, especially in the head and neck region, can increase the risk of developing jaw cancer.
  • Family history: Having a family history of jaw cancer can increase the risk of developing it.
  • Diet: Some studies suggest that a diet low in fruits and vegetables may increase the risk of developing jaw cancer.
  • Gender: Men are more likely than women to develop jaw cancer.
  • Infections: Some viral and bacterial infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), have been linked to an increased risk of developing jaw cancer.

Diagnosis of Jaw Cancer

The diagnosis of jaw cancer typically begins with a physical exam and a review of the patient’s medical history.

The physician may order imaging tests such as a CT scan, MRI, or X-ray to help determine the size, location, and extent of the tumor.

In some cases, a biopsy may be taken to confirm the diagnosis. Depending on the results of the tests, the doctor may recommend additional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery.

Treatment of Jaw Cancer

  • Jaw cancer is a form of oral cancer and is usually treated with a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The type of treatment and its effectiveness depends on the stage of cancer, the size, and location of the tumor, and the patient’s overall health.
  • Surgery: Surgery is usually the first line of treatment for jaw cancer and may involve removing part or all the affected area. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, the surgeon may also perform a lymph node biopsy to check for cancer spread.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells. This treatment is typically used after surgery to reduce the risk of cancer coming back.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells and is usually used in combination with radiation therapy. It may be used before or after surgery, or both, to shrink tumors, reduce the risk of spread, and improve the effectiveness of other treatments.
  • Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy drugs target specific molecular changes in cancer cells that can help keep them from growing and spreading. These drugs are usually used in combination with other treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy.

Preventive Tips for Jaw Cancer

  • Avoid using tobacco and drinking alcohol
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is low in processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fats
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid overexposure to the sunlight
  • Have regular dental check-ups to screen for oral cancer
  • Avoid high-risk behaviors that can lead to sexually transmitted infections
  • Perform regular self-exams of the jaw, neck, and face to check for any irregularities
  • Have regular screenings and check-ups with your doctor