Oral cancer early symptom variations: pain as the first symptom in oral cancer patients
AbstractIntroduction: Although oral cancer is amenable for early detection, it often presents as advanced disease in many of patients. Long-lasting ulcer or mucosal discoloration has been described as the key to an early diagnosis; however other symptoms may also exist. The present study aims to describe the frequency of the early symptoms in oral cancer patients, with a special focus on pain.Materials and Methods: Patients (n=100) with primary oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) treated in three university hospitals during 2004-2006, in Tehran, were included in this study. Oral cancers were defined as SCCs of the oral cavity (ICD-10 anatomical sites C01-C06). Questionnaireinterviews were made and all the patient records were reviewed for retrieving data. Data analysis wasdone by means of SPSS version 20, by Chi-squared test and multinomial regression.Results: Majority of patients (73%) reported to have painless ulcer as the first symptom. Pain was reported to be the earliest symptom in 10% of oral cancer patients. Other symptoms were swelling, white patch, and paresthesia. Stage of tumor at the time of diagnosis and source of referral were related to initial symptom (p< 0.05). Patients who had pain as the first symptom was mostly referred to hospital by a medical professional rather than a dentist or any other dental professional. They werealso at an advanced stage of tumor when being diagnosed.Conclusion: This study supports the importance of initial symptoms in the detection of oral cancers in the earliest stage, in order to improve patients’ prognosis and quality of life.Key words: pain, Iran, oral cancer, early symptom.
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