What Is Jaw Bone Cancer?

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery are the most common treatments for jaw bone cancer.
Article Details
  • Written By: Erik J.J. Goserud
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Jaw bone cancer is a very rare disease consisting of an abnormal cellular mass located in the jaw bone. Cancer typically consists of unusual cell reproduction, resulting in a malignant, or cancerous mass, which is characterized by uncontrollable growth. This mass may be referred to as a tumor, and a tumor is categorized into either malignant or benign.

A malignant tumor generally refers to a growing or cancerous mass, while a benign tumor does not contain any cancerous cells. The exact cause of cancer is not currently known and is a heavily researched topic due to the widespread effect this disease has on the health of millions. Different types of cancer are thought to have different initiating mechanisms, and in the case of jaw bone cancer, the origin is thought to result from a DNA error in bone cells.

The symptoms of jaw bone cancer may include pain, bone weakness, fatigue, and weight loss. If any of these symptoms are present for an extended period of time, a medical professional should be consulted immediately. A medical professional will likely choose to run a variety of diagnostic tests that may help determine the specific ailment present, upon which an appropriate treatment plan may be implemented.

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The prognosis, treatment, and outcome of a jaw bone cancer diagnosis varies. As with most diseases, there are a number of factors affecting issues related to this rare type of bone cancer. Some of these factors include age, weight, family history, and medical history, and patients respond differently to treatment due to tolerance to treatment types, stage of disease, gender, and ethnicity.

The treatment of jaw bone cancer is similar to other types of cancer. The most common options include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. Depending on the patient's medical preferences, alternative or experimental treatment options may be utilized as well. Generally speaking, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the outcome, but in the case of late-stage jaw bone cancer, palliative care may be primarily used as a means of pain and quality of life management.

Radiation therapy draws upon techniques that aggressively attack cancerous and cancer-causing cells. As with chemotherapy, the frequency and intensity of treatments vary on a case-by-case basis. Chemotherapy also targets abnormal cells contributing to cancerous growth, but it is different from radiation in that it uses a chemical mechanism rather than radiation to do so. Surgery entails the surgical removal of the malignant mass. The primary issue with failure of the surgical technique is that the cancer may metastasize, or change locations to a different part of the body.

Palliative care is a term used to describe treatment options for patients who are generally terminal in diagnosis. The philosophical foundation supporting these treatment options is to maximize the potential for quality of life toward the end of a patient's illness. This includes social support, pain management, and other aspects of comfortably aiding those suffering from life-threatening diseases.

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