What is Mouth Cancer

Mouth Cancer Causes

Cancer is referred to as the uncontrollable growth of cells which invade and cause damage to the surrounding tissue. Mouth cancer, also called as oral cancer, is where the tumour develops in any part of the mouth. It can be either on the surface of the tongue or the inside of the cheeks, or the roof of the mouth called palate, or the lips or the gums. Tumours can also tend to develop in the glands which produce saliva, in the tonsils at the back of the mouth, and in the part of the throat which is connecting your mouth to your windpipe or pharynx. However, these are much less common. Mouth cancer is amongst the most several types of cancers which is grouped in a category known as the head and neck cancers. Mouth cancer and the other head and neck cancers are generally treated similarly. Oral cancer generally occurs in the people over the age of 40 and affects more than about twice as many men as women. Most oral cancers are related to tobacco use, alcohol use or both, or an infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). In this article, we will study what is mouth cancer, mouth cancer causes, what are the symptoms of mouth cancer, and oral cancer reasons.

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Mouth Cancer Causes

Let us first learn about the mouth cancer reasons in detail. Given below are the mouth cancer causes.

  1. Tobacco and Alcohol usage: Tobacco usage of any kind, which includes cigarette smoking, puts you at a higher risk of developing oral cancers. Heavy alcohol usage also increases the oral cancer risk. Using both tobacco and alcohol increases the risk of developing cancer even further.

  2. HPV: An Infection with the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, especially the HPV 16 type is linked to oral cancers.

  3. Age: The risk to develop oral cancer increases with age. Oral cancers quite often develop in people that are over the age of 40.

  4. Sun Exposure: Cancer of the lip may be caused due to the sun exposure as well.


What are the Symptoms of Mouth Cancer?

The most common symptoms of mouth cancer are given as follows:

  1. Swellings or thickenings, lumps or bumps, rough spots or crusts or eroded areas found on the lips, gums, or several other areas inside the mouth

  2. The development of a velvety white, red, or speckled white and red coloured patches inside the mouth

  3. An unexplained bleeding inside the mouth

  4. An unexplained numbness, or loss of any feeling, or pain or tenderness in any of the areas of the mouth, face or neck.

  5. Developing persistent sores on the mouth, face, or neck, which bleed easily and do not heal within a span of 2 weeks

  6. Soreness or feeling that something is trapped in the back of your throat

  7. Difficulty in chewing or swallowing, difficulty in speaking, or even moving your jaw or tongue

  8. Hoarseness in voice, chronic sore throat, or a change in voice

  9. Pain in the ears

  10. A change in the way the teeth or the dentures fit together

  11. Drastic weight loss


Oral Cancer Diagnosis

Since oral cancer can be spread quickly, early detection is very important. An oral cancer examination can be able to detect any early signs of cancer. The examination is painless and takes only a couple of minutes. Many dentists will also perform this test at the time of your regular dental check-ups.

During this exam, your dentist or the dental hygienist will examine your face, lips, neck and the entire mouth for any possible signs of cancer.


Oral Cancer Treatment

There are usually three main treatment options that are available for mouth cancer. These include the following:

  1. Surgery for removing the cancerous cells, along with the tiny bit of the surrounding normal tissue or cells for ensuring that the cancer is completely removed

  2. Radiotherapy wherein the beams of radiation are targeted at the cancerous cells

  3. Chemotherapy wherein the powerful medicines are used for killing the cancerous cells


These treatments are used in a combination many times. For example, the surgery might be followed by the course of the radiotherapy to help in preventing the cancer from returning.

Apart from trying to cure the mouth cancer, the treatment will also focus on preserving the important functions of the mouth, such as breathing, eating, and speaking. Maintaining the appearance of your mouth would also be of a high priority.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the complications of Mouth Cancer?

Mouth cancer can have the following complications:

  • Both the Mouth cancer and its treatment could cause several complications. It can affect the appearance of the mouth and cause several problems associated with speaking and swallowing, called dysphagia.

  • Dysphagia can prove to be a serious problem. If even small pieces of the food enter your airways when you are trying to swallow and the food is lodged in your lungs, it can lead to the chest infection, which is referred to as the aspiration pneumonia.

2. How to prevent Mouth Cancer?

There are 3 most effective ways to prevent the Mouth cancer from occurring or stopping it from occurring again after the successful treatment. These methods are explained as follows:

  1. Not smoking or using tobacco in any other ways, for example not chewing tobacco

  2. Ensuring that you do not drink more than what is the recommended weekly guideline for the alcohol

  3. Eating a healthy and balanced diet which includes fresh vegetables especially tomatoes, other citrus fruits, fish, and olive oil