Jaw Cancer

Oral cancer or cancer in the jaw is a common risk for those that smoke or have a high level of alcohol consumption. Your jaw is responsible for holding your teeth in place and creates structure for the lower half of the skull. Jaw cancer is defined as any cancer that develops in the surrounding tissues of this structure which may cause painful lumps to appear on the jaw and spreads to other parts of the mouth or body. Understanding how to check for jaw cancer and how to treat it is essential to catching this cancer at an early stage when it is easier to treat.


Causes of Jaw Cancer

1. Tobacco Use

Tobacco products including cigars, cigarettes or pipes are one of the largest offenders for increasing a person’s risk of developing cancer. Tobacco products also contain nicotine that makes it difficult for users to stop consuming tobacco products, even if they are aware of the fact that the tobacco smoke is causing disease or health risks throughout their body. Smokeless tobacco products such as snuff or chew can also increase the risk of jaw cancer because of 28 risky chemical additives that can be found in the juice.

2. Alcohol Consumption

Consuming alcohol also increases the risk of oral cancers due to the chemicals in the substance that will encourage cancerous materials to grow. Consuming alcohol while using tobacco products further increases this risk because alcohol will dehydrate the tissues and encourage the tobacco to penetrate them more easily.

3. Sunlight Exposure

Sun exposure is very harmful to your overall health because the rays can cause cellular mutations that can lead to cancerous growths. This risk can be easily prevented with proper sun protection on the face.

4. Viral Infection

Chronic ailment such as the human papilloma virus increases the risk of developing mouth cancer. These viruses can begin to grow at the base of the tongue and then spread to the cheeks and the area around the teeth.

5. Age and Diet

As a person ages you are at a higher risk of developing diseases because the immune system is not as able to fight off these ailments. This includes cancerous tissues that may begin to grow in the body. If you fail to consume a nutritious, balanced diet, deficiencies can also impact the body’s ability to function properly which may include limiting your ability to clean away cancerous cells.

6. Medical Conditions

Conditions such as leukoplakia that causes white patches in the mouth or erythroplakia that causes red, raised patches in the mouth can increase your risk of developing jaw cancer.

Symptoms of Jaw Cancer

1. Jaw Pain

As the number of cancerous cells in the jaw increases it can cause the jawbone to deteriorate which can be quite painful. You may find that this pain is acute when you eat or drink and you may not be able to chew your food properly.

2. Tumor

As jaw cancer becomes more advanced you may notice a lump growing in the jaw below the teeth or near your gums. As this lump gets larger it may cause tooth pain.

3. Swollen Jaw

Malignant tumors in the jaw can cause the tissues to swell or appear larger than normal, which may also be painful.

4. Moving Teeth

As the cancer causes the jaw to deteriorate it may not be able to hold your teeth tightly, causing them to move when they are touched.

5. Localized Facial Swelling

If you have a tumor on the exterior of the jaw you may notice your face swelling in the area near the tumor. This can disturb the natural alignment of your jaw.

6. Jaw Numbness or Tingling

You may notice a prickling or tingling sensation around the jaw when it is sitting still. This is caused by the tumor putting pressure on the local nerves that control oral sensitivity.

7. Swollen Lymph Nodes

The lymph nodes near the jaw bone may become swollen as jaw cancer develops. This may be a sign that the cancer has started to spread, so this symptom should be taken very seriously. The lymph nodes are also a sign that your body is fighting an infection, but if you are at risk for developing jaw cancer it is important to get a firm diagnosis from your doctor.

Treatments for Jaw Cancer

1. Surgery

Removing the cancerous growth can remove the risk of jaw cancer if the tumor is localized and the cells have not begun to spread throughout the body. If the lymph nodes near the jaw are affected then more aggressive treatment may need to be taken. These surgical procedures may require the doctor to drill into the jawbone to ensure all of the cancerous cells have been removed. Surgery is the most effective if the cancer has been caught early.

2. Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy revolves around focusing localized high energy rays on the cancerous growth to kill the cells. This radiation will penetrate through the skin to prevent the cancer from spreading.

3. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy drugs are administered to the patient intravenously to help kill off the fast growing cancer cells that may be invading other areas of the body. This treatment can also help manage the pain cancerous growths may cause.