July 24, 2014
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Oral Care

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Oral Cancers

(Mouth Cancers, Cancer of the Mouth)

The Facts on Oral Cancers

Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth. It can occur in the lining of the mouth or in the deeper tissues such as the bone, muscle, and nerves. Cancer of the mouth lining is called a carcinoma and makes up 90% of all oral cancer. Cancer of the mouth is most common in people over 50 years of age, but it can occur in younger people.

Oral cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Unfortunately, more people die from oral cancer than from cervical cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, or melanoma. This is because oral cancer is often diagnosed when it is already advanced. Early diagnosis and treatment is the most effective way to treat oral cancer.

Causes of Oral Cancers

Oral cancer is not caused by one thing, but certain factors increase its risk. Factors include smoking, chewing tobacco or using snuff, drinking excessive alcohol, having unprotected sun exposure to the lips, and chewing betel nut - all these increase the risk of developing oral cancer. This risk of oral cancer is even higher when people have more than one or all of these unhealthy habits.

Infections of the mouth with the human papillomavirus (HPV) may also increase the risk of oral cancer. For some, oral cancer develops without any of these risks. People that have had head and neck cancer in the past may also have an increased risk of oral cancer.





Symptoms and Complications of Oral Cancers

Oral cancers commonly affect the sides of the tongue and the floor and roof of the mouth.

The possible signs of cancer include:

  • ulcer or painless sore in the mouth that does not heal within 14 days
  • a lump in the mouth or neck
  • difficult or painful chewing or swallowing
  • thickening of the cheek
  • numbness of the mouth or face
  • hoarse voice that lasts a long time
  • white or red patches in the mouth
  • difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
  • dentures that don't fit well
  • loose teeth
  • problems speaking
  • bleeding or pain in the mouth or on the lip
  • flat, hard spot on the outside of the bottom lip
  • a wart-like growth in the mouth

It is important to have any of these changes checked by your doctor or dentist. Having these symptoms does not always mean the person has cancer, but because it could be cancerous, it is best to get it checked.

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