Cancer is the uncontrollable multiplication of harmful cells that attack cause damage surrounding body tissue. Mouth cancer looks simply like a growth or a persistent sore in your mouth. Unless it is diagnosed early and treated correctly, oral cancer can become a threat to life.
The commonest symptoms of mouth cancer could be one or more of the following.
- Swellings or thickening of flesh, or lumps, especially those which are painless and persistent ones
- Crusts, rough spots or eroded patches anywhere on the gums, lips, or within your mouth
- The appearance of velvety patches in the mouth which could be white or red (or speckled).
- Bleeding within the mouth for no apparent reason.
- Unexplained sensory abnormality (pain or tenderness, numbness or reduced sensitivity in any part of the, face, neck, or mouth.
- Sores in the mouth or in the face and neck that start bleeding easily and last for over two weeks
- A chronic sore throat or a feeling in the throat as if something may be stuck in the throat
- Some difficulty in swallowing, speaking, chewing, or in moving your tongue or the jaw.
- Chronic hoarseness or a change in your voice.
- Frequent pain in the ear.
- A changed bite (how the upper and lower teeth fit together).
- A noticeable loss in body weight.
What Can Cause Mouth Cancer?
As advised by the American Cancer Society, American males are twice as likely to get mouth cancer as females. Further, males older than 50 stand the highest risk. It has been estimated that more than forty thousand persons in the United States were diagnosed with mouth cancer in the year 2014.
Prominent factors linked with oral cancer are:
- Smoking – tobacco smoking in any form e.g., cigarette, pipe or cigar, can increase your risk of oral cancel six times over nonsmokers with similar general health.
- Smokeless tobacco – snuff, or dip, or those who chew tobacco, or its derivatives, stand 50 times greater risk of developing oral cancers.
- Alcohol – Alcohol drinkers are nearly six times as likely to develop mouth cancer as non-drinkers.
- Genetic Tendencies – People with the incidence of cancer in the family are at a greater risk.
- Exposure to sun – Excessive exposure to the sun, especially at a young age, can cause cancers.
- HPV (Human papillomavirus) – Some strains of HPV are associated with OSCC (Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
What Should One Do?
If you observe any one or more of the symptoms discussed above, do not delay contacting your dentist. One of the most effective protection against oral cancer is optimal hygiene maintenance and regular checkup visits to your dentist. During each checkup visit, your dentist will perform oral cancer screening so that any malignancy can be detected and treated in a timely manner. Remember, oral cancer can be easily treated if it is diagnosed in early stages. Visit your dentist immediately if you feel any lump or swelling which is not going away.
All articles are either written by, or content checked by an ex-General Dental Council (retired) registrant. Information in these articles should not be taken as dental advice and are for general information only, you should always seek advice of your local dentist, if you do not have a local dentist you might like to search our register.