Symptoms of oral cancer include difficulty chewing, lumps and sores, and white or red patches in the mouth. Finding and treating oral cancer early can help prevent the cancer from growing larger or spreading to other areas.
Oral cancer is caused by the uncontrolled growth and reproduction of cells in certain areas of the mouth. It can occur on the inside of the cheeks, under the middle and front of the tongue, or in the tissue lining the mouth or gum line. More men than women are diagnosed with oral cancer.
Oral Cancer Warning Signs and Symptoms
If a person experiences difficulty swallowing and pain around the throat, they should see a doctor. Oral cancer symptoms vary, but anyone who experiences any of the following symptoms for more than 2 weeks should see a doctor for a diagnosis:
– difficulty chewing or swallowing
– a lump or pain in the mouth, throat or lips
– a white or red spot in the mouth
– difficulty moving the tongue or jaw
– unexpected weight loss
– a sore or ulcer that does not heal or bleeds
– tenderness, pain or lumps anywhere in the mouth or on the lips.
However, it is important to remember that these are not definitive signs of oral cancer, but may be caused by other conditions, such as an allergy or infection.
What are the causes and risk factors?
Experts believe that mutations in a cell’s DNA cause cancer by stimulating abnormal growth and cell death. Although it is still not clear what triggers the initial mutation in many cases, some specific factors may increase the risk of oral cancer.
These include in particular:
Tobacco and alcohol consumption: Any form of tobacco consumption involves the entry of carcinogenic substances into the mouth, which greatly increases the risk of oral cancer. Excessive alcohol consumption can also increase the risk.
Age: The risk of oral cancer increases with age, with the median age at diagnosis being 62 years.
Human papillomavirus (HPV): This is a sexually transmitted infection that is strongly associated with various forms of oral cancer.
Sun exposure: The sun emits rays that can burn the lips and trigger the development of oral cancer.
Sex: Men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer, but it’s not clear why.
As with most other types of cancer, oral cancer is not always preventable. Some risk factors for oral cancer, such as being male or getting older, cannot be avoided. However, certain lifestyle factors can reduce the risk of oral cancer, including:
– avoid tobacco
– consume alcohol in moderation
– Have a healthy diet
– use sunscreen, sunscreen or lip balm on the lips when exposed to the sun
– exercise regularly
– have good oral hygiene
– Go to the dentist regularly for check-ups.
Why is early detection so important?
In most forms of cancer, early diagnosis is crucial. Oral cancer treatment usually involves a combination of therapies, such as radiation and chemotherapy, which are much more effective in the early stages. If the cancer has spread to other areas, it becomes much more difficult to isolate and treat. If the cancer has not spread to surrounding tissue, 5-year survival rates for oral cancer of the lip, tongue, and floor of the mouth range from 75 percent to 93 percent. These numbers decrease if the cancer has spread to surrounding tissue.
Warning signs of mouth cancer are mouth sores, white or red spots, tenderness, or pain. Anyone with these symptoms should see their doctor. Early diagnosis increases the chances of successful treatment. Quitting smoking and using tobacco products can lower your risk of developing mouth cancer.
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