Warning Signs of Oral Cancer: Are You at Risk

Significant symptoms and signs of oral cancer include difficulty in chewing, lumps or sores, and white or red patches in the mouth. Early detection of oral cancer and it’s consequent oral cancer treatment can help prevent the disease from developing further or from spreading to other areas.

Uncontrolled growth and reproduction of cells in some areas of the mouth causes oral cancer. Oral cancer might occur inside the cheeks, under the tongue or on the tissue lining of the gum or mouth.

There are about 50,000 new cases of oral cancer each year in India, which accounts for around 3 percent of all cancer diagnoses. Surveys say that men are more prone to oral cancer than women.

Warning signs and symptoms of oral cancer:

  • If you are experiencing difficulty in swallowing and soreness around your throat, you should see a doctor immediately.
  • The symptoms of oral cancer vary from one person to the other. But, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, you should see a doctor for diagnosis immediately:
  1. Difficulty in swallowing or chewing a lump or sore area in the mouth, throat or lips.
  2. A white or red patch in your mouth
  3. Difficulty in moving the tongue or the jaw
  4. Unexpected and sudden weight loss
  5. A sore or an ulcer that does not heal. Or an ulcer that bleeds.
  6. Tenderness, lumps or pain anywhere inside the mouth or on the lips.

However, it is most important to remember that these are not 100% sure or definitive signs of oral cancer. Such symptoms may be caused by other conditions, such as a minor allergy or an infection.

What are the causes and risk factors?

Experts and doctors think that mutations in the DNA of a particular cell cause cancer by stimulating exponential and abnormal growth followed by cell death.

It still remains unclear what exactly triggers the initial mutation in most cases. Certain factors can increase the risk of oral cancer.

They include:

  • Tobacco and alcohol abuse:

Any form of tobacco use involves carcinogenic substances going inside the mouth, which significantly increases the risk of oral cancer. Excessive alcohol abuse can also increase the risk.

  • Age:

The risk of oral cancer increases with increasing age, with the average age of diagnosis being 63 years.

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV):

It is a sexually transmitted infection that has strong associations with various different forms of oral cancer.

  • Sun exposure:

The sun emits certain harmful rays that can burn the lips and hence trigger the development of oral cancers.

  • Sex: Men are over twice as likely to develop oral cancer than females; however, it is unclear why.

Minimizing your risks

Cancers of the mouth are amongst the most preventable kinds of cancer. The number one thing and most important thing that you can do to prevent oral cancer are never to begin smoking or quit smoking if you already do.

You can also reduce your risk by:

  • Limiting exposure to the sun and wearing an SPF lip balm.
  • Eating a well balanced and well-rounded diet of fruits and vegetables.
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation, if you drink alcohol that is.
  • Removing the mouth dentures at night and cleaning them every day.
  • Practicing good and healthy oral health habits

While it’s almost impossible to prevent oral cancer, following these steps entirely can help reduce the chances of diagnosis. Visiting the right dentist on a regular basis will also help ensure any signs of oral cancer that are identified as early as possible. Treatment for mouth cancer is not as complicated as the other kinds.

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