Oral or Mouth Cancer


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Cancer refers to a class of disease whose main defining feature is a group of cells which grow at an uncontrollable rate and cause damage to surrounding tissues. Oral cancer typically appears as a sore or growth in your mouth which won't heal up and disappear. Oral cancer is used to refer to any cancer which occurs in your cheeks, tongue, lips and other nearby places. If oral cancer is left untreated it may be potentially fatal.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Most patients suffering from oral cancer often experience swellings and lumps which appear inside their mouth or on their lips and gums as well as throat pain. These can also appear as crusts or rough and eroded patches. Another indicator of oral cancer is bleeding which occurs seemingly without reason. Similarly, red and white patches developing inside your mouth can often be an indicator. A great deal of patients with oral cancer experience a loss of sensitivity in their mouth, face or neck areas. Sores which appear due to oral cancer often bleed for extended periods and many patients have trouble chewing, swallowing and speaking.

Causes of Oral Cancer

There are a number of factors which put you at an increased risk of developing oral cancer. The most common risk factor is smoking, which puts those that smoke about six times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-smokers. Those using 'smokeless' tobacco such as chewing tobacco, are at even more of a risk of developing cancer in their gums and lips. Alcohol has also been shown to increase the risk of oral cancer and research also indicates exposure to excessive sunlight can also put you at risk. There is a strong genetic factor with oral cancer so if it runs in your family then you are at an increased risk.

Treatment of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is usually treated in the same way that other cancers are. This usually means that surgery to extract the growth will be used alongside radiation or chemotherapy in order to eradicate any remaining cancer cells.

Preventing Oral Cancer

There are several things you can do to lower your risk of developing oral cancer. The most important step you can take is quitting smoking or using tobacco products as this is the highest risk factor. Consuming excessive alcohol can also pose a risk so be sure to moderate your drinking. Limit your time in the sun and make use of protective lotions on your lips and skin. Research indicates that maintaining a healthy and varied diet can also lower the risk of oral cancer developing.


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Guide to Dental Diseases, Conditions & Surgery