What Is Jaw Cancer?

Jaw cancer, depending on the stage, may require surgery.
Severe jaw pain may be a symptom of jaw cancer.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 13 July 2014
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Jaw cancer may develop in a person’s mandible, which consists of the bones beneath his mouth. Cancer may also develop in a person’s maxilla, which are the bones above his mouth. The cancer that develops in these areas may be limited to the jaw, or it may spread and affect other parts of a person's body. Unfortunately, cancer in the jaw is sometimes mistaken for a benign growth, such as a cyst, and treatment is delayed.

Jaw cancer may develop in either the upper or lower part of the jaw. Once it forms, it has potential to spread to other parts of the jaw or other parts of the body. When cancer of the jaw spreads to other parts of the body, it is said to be metastatic cancer. While all types of cancer are serious, those that spread are more worrisome and often more difficult to treat.

Symptoms of jaw cancer include pain or numbness in the jaw, and a lump or other abnormal growth. Often, jaw cancer is mistaken for another type of condition because its symptoms are so similar to benign issues. For example, a person with jaw pain may think he has a deep cavity that is causing the pain, an infection, or an abscess. Lumps and jaw growths are often mistaken for cysts rather than cancer. This is due to the fact that cysts are commonly found in the jaw.

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A medical professional may suspect jaw cancer based on its symptoms, but he cannot diagnose it based on symptoms alone. Instead, a medical professional typically performs a biopsy to diagnose this type of cancer. To perform a biopsy, a medical professional usually removes a sample of the suspicious cells or the entire growth. An individual is usually injected with a numbing agent or sedated during this process, so he is unlikely to feel pain during the biopsy. Once the cells or growths have been extracted, a doctor examines the cells or a sample of the growth to check for the presence of cancer.

The treatment for jaw cancer typically depends on the stage of cancer the patient has, whether or not it has spread, and his overall health. A medical professional may perform surgery to remove the cancerous growth in some cases. A patient may undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment as well.

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browncoat
Post 3

@pastanaga - Actually I think that jaw cancer might fall under the same banner of "oral cancers" that throat cancer does and it may be caused by smoking as well. Although, if it's in the bone, maybe not.

I find it very scary that jaw cancer symptoms seem to be often ignored, since catching cancer early is one of the only ways of ensuring that a person is really going to survive it.

pastanaga
Post 2
@croydon - I wouldn't worry too much about various things being related to cancer. I mean, it's pretty well established now that mouthwash can cause cancer and it's supposed to prevent you from getting bad teeth, so it's possible if you don't know for sure what's going to hurt you to make the exact wrong move.

And I doubt that jaw cancer has many jaw specific causes. It's probably just a general sort of cancer that happens to form on the jaw, rather than being like, say, throat cancer, which is usually caused by smoking.

croydon
Post 1

One of the options for treatment with jaw cancer is unusual when it comes to human anatomy at the moment and that's a bone tissue transplant. Bone grafting is mostly used in the jaw when someone needs to be able to replace teeth, but it can also be used if someone loses a bunch of bone to cancer or for some other reason.

I'm not sure why they don't use it as often in other cases, but it might be just that the jaw is one of the other places that's really vulnerable to bone loss, because the teeth make it more prone to infections. I wonder if that is also related to cancer.

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