Oral cancer appears as overgrowth or sore in the mouth that does not heal and reoccur very frequently. About 50,000 people in the U.S. get oral cancer each year, 70% of them are mostly men. Oral cancer includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx, etc. It can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated at the early stages.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
The most common symptoms of oral cancer include the following
- Swellings, lumps or bumps, over growths, rough spots, crusts or eroded areas on the lips, gums, cheek, or other areas inside the oral cavity.
- The color may be velvety white, red, or speckled white and red patches in the mouth.
- Bleeding in the mouth without any possible cause.
- Numbness, loss of feeling, or pain, tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck without any injury.
- Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks and reoccur very fastly.
- A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat causing burning or itching sensation in the throat.
- Difficulty in masticating food or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.
- Hoarseness in throat, chronic sore throat, or change in voice.
- Difficulty in opening mouth.
- Weight loss can be seen in few cases.
- Smoking Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoking are the most common causes for oral cancers. They are 6 times more prone to cancers.
- Smokeless tobacco users, users of dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco products are 50 times more likely to develop oral cancers.
- Oral cancers are about six times more common in drinkers than in nondrinkers of alcohol. Using alcohol and tobacco together increases your chances of getting cancers.
- Genetic history of cancers can also increase the possibilities.
- Excessive sun exposure, especially at a young age, ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause lip cancers or squamous cell carcinomas.
- Human papillomavirus are etiologic risk factors for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinomas.
- Oral cancers can take years to grow or some can take few days to months to grow.
- Men are at least twice as likely as women to get oral cancer. It could be probably because men drink and smoke more than women do.
- Studies have found a link between oral cancer and not eating enough vegetables and fruits.
- It is important to note that over 25% of all oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke and who only drink alcohol occasionally.
Diagnosis of cancers includes many tests, biopsy and several scans to confirm it and to know the type of cancer. Prior to medical examination, self examination can be more helpful in cases of cancers to detect the cancer at early stages. So, its better not to neglect if any suspicious growth, ulcer, swelling occurs and it is not healing in time. The medical diagnosis include several blood tests, PET scan, MRI scans, CT scans, biopsy etc.
Scientists think that oral cancer starts when the DNA in the cells inside your mouth gets damaged or in some cases due to mutations. But some things, including your health habits, can make you more likely to get it. The prevention of oral cancer include the following
- Quitting smoking or use of any tobacco products and alcohol consumption in moderation can help to some extent.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and maintain healthy life by exercising, meditation, yoga, etc.
- Limit your over exposure to the sun because repeated exposure increases the risk of cancer on the lip, especially the lower lip. When in the sun, use UV-A/B-blocking sun protective lotions on your skin, as well as your lips to prevent cancers.
- Visit the dentist for regular check-ups.