Oral Cancer

Cancerous cells in the mouth and surrounding areas


By Triston Brewer, Medical Research EditorLast modified: September 14, 2011



Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer

What is Oral Cancer?


Oral cancer is the growth of cells in the mouth that attack surrounding tissue, and includes the lips, tongue, cheek, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and the throat. If left untreated and not detected early enough, it can be life-threatening.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer?


There are several symptoms of oral cancer, which makes detecting the disease early difficult. The most common signs of the disease, however, include swelling or thickening of the mouth, rough areas of the lips and gums, the emergence of white and red patches in the mouth, excessive bleeding in the mouth, pain or tenderness of the face, mouth, or neck, recurring sores on the on the face, neck, and mouth that do not heal within a couple of weeks, and difficulty chewing. There are other signs of the disease that are not as pronounced and it is therefore critical to contact your primary care physician if you are exhibiting the more common ailments associated with oral cancer.

Risk Factors of Oral Cancer


According to research studies, men run the risk of developing oral cancer twice as much as women, and men over the age of 50 face the highest risk among any group. Certain risk factors for oral cancer include cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoking, as they are six times more likely than non-smokers to develop oral cancer. Using tobacco products such as dip or chewing tobacco also significantly raises the risks of cancer developing in the cheeks, gums, and linings of the lips. The excessive consumption of alcohol is also six times more likely to cause oral cancer than non-drinkers. As well, if there is a family history of oral cancer, a hereditary link can be a contributing cause of the disease. And finally, overexposure to the sun, especially beginning at a young age, has proven to be a major cause of oral cancer.

Diagnosis of Oral Cancer


To diagnose patients for oral cancer, this is routine done as part of a comprehensive dental examination, in which the dentist will feel for any irregularities, lumps, or tissue change inside the mouth, oral cavity, face, head, and neck. Your dentist will check for any sores or discoloration and if there are signs of the disease, a biopsy of tissues is performed. The earlier the detection, the better prognoses against the disease.

How to Prevent Oral Cancer


Preventative measures to oral cancer include the use of lip balms to protect against ultra violet rays from the sun. The additional use of sunscreen around your lips, limiting alcohol consumption, and tobacco use can significantly reduce your risks of developing oral cancer. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and the reduction of foods high in fats and sugars also increases your chances against oral cancer. And finally, early detection through regular checkups with your dentist or primary health care physician after the age of 45 is recommended.

Cost of Oral Cancer Treatments


The costs associated with oral cancer vary depending on where the disease is located on the body, the area in which you live, your health care insurance, and the stage of oral cancer within the body. To find out about treatment options available, search within our directory for a city near you.

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