DESCRIPTIONOral cancer is a growth of malignant cells in the mouth or tongue. It is rare but dangerous. The lips, gums, palate, tongue, membranes inside the lip or cheek, and the floor of the mouth are involved. Oral cancer may affect adolescents or younger children if they smoke, chew tobacco, or dip snuff.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Surgery to remove the cancerous area.
Speech therapy, if surgery impairs the child's speech.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSIt enlarges, ulcerates, and bleeds easily.
It may make the child's tongue stiff and difficult to control, causing speaking and swallowing difficulty.
A pale lump--usually painless -- with a hard rim that appears in any part of the child's mouth or tongue. It has the following characteristics:
RISK FACTORSUse of tobacco in any form.
Family history of oral cancer.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEYour child should not use tobacco.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood studies.
Biopsy (See Glossary) of the lump.
X-rays of the child's head.
Slow healing after surgery.
Spread to lymph nodes in the child's neck, requiring radical head and neck surgery.
Permanent speech impairment.
Usually curable with early detection and treatment. The child's normal facial appearance can often be restored by plastic surgery.
HOME CAREAfter surgery, cleanse the child's mouth 3 to 4 times a day with a soothing salt-water solution (1 teaspoon salt to 8 oz. warm water).
Pain relievers after surgery.
Antibiotics, if infection coexists.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your doctor may prescribe:
Your child can resume normal activities gradually after surgery.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet after recovery. The child may require a liquid diet for several days after surgery.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes, when appetite has returned and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has signs of a mouth or tongue tumor.
The following occurs after surgery:
-- Increasing pain.
-- New lumps.
-- Excessive bleeding.