Early signs of mouth cancer present with the following:
- Mouth cancers usually begin as a flat lesion in any part of the oral cavity
- A white or red patch in the mouth
- An ulcer which does not heal on the lips or inside the mouth
- Bleeding from the ulcer
- A swelling/lump in the oral cavity
- Pain in the mouth
- Pain radiating to the ear
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue, causing difficulty in chewing and talking
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Loosening and falling of teeth
- Loss of weight (without trying)
What causes mouth cancer?
Researchers have suggested that mouth cancers arise from cells in the oral cavity, which undergo DNA mutations (a permanent change in the DNA sequence). The mutations cause the cells to grow and divide rapidly and abnormally. The exact cause of the DNA mutations in cells is not known, but certain factors increase the risk of developing cancer. They are
- Tobacco in any form (chewing tobacco, smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and snuff), significantly increases the risk of oral cancer
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Age: The risk for mouth cancer increases with age and is more common after the age of 60 years
- Sun exposure: Excessive sun exposure can increase the risk of mouth cancer developing from the lips
- Sex: Men are two times more likely than women to develop mouth cancer
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): The virus is usually sexually transmitted, and certain strains of HPV increases the risk of mouth cancer
- A weak immune system due to conditions like HIV, malnutrition, etc.
- Sharp tooth, causing chronic trauma and irritation to the buccal mucosa or tongue
- Poor dental hygiene
How is mouth cancer treated?
Treatment of mouth cancer depends on the location and stage of cancer. Treatment may involve one or a combination of treatment modalities.
Treatment options include:
- Surgery: If the tumor is localized, the surgeon may only remove the tumor with a margin of normal tissue surrounding the tumor. If the tumor has spread to other parts of the head and neck, the lymph nodes and affected tissues may be removed. If a significant part of the tissue has been removed, leaving a defect, reconstructive surgery would be performed by the surgeon.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy involves using high-energy radiation beams like X-rays to kill cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves using chemicals to kill cancer cells.
- Targeted drug therapy: Targeted drugs alter certain proteins of the cancer cells that affect their growth and cause the death of the cancer cell.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy uses the patient’s immune system to fight cancer cells.
Can mouth cancer be prevented?
It may not always be possible to prevent oral cancer just like any other cancer. Some lifestyle modifications can reduce the risk of oral cancer, such as:
- Avoiding tobacco consumption in any form
- Limiting the consumption of alcohol
- Having a healthy, nutritious diet and exercising regularly
- Applying sunblock all over the face and neck. The lips should be protected by using a lip balm with sunscreen.
- Maintaining good oral hygiene
- Treatment of sharp tooth
- Visiting the dentist regularly to ensure oral health
- Women's Gymnastics Brings High Risk for Concussion
- Going Solo: Masturbation May Give Humans an Evolutionary Edge
- Longer Breastfeeding in Infancy, Better School Grades for Kids?
- Kids With ADHD, Behavior Issues Have Poorer Trajectories as Adults
- FDA Finalizes Limit on How Much Arsenic Can Be in Apple Juice
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top The Early Stages of Mouth Cancer Related Articles
Are Cold Sores (Fever Blisters) Contagious?About 20% of cases of cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), and approximately 80% of cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Cold sores are transmitted by sharing utensils and razors, kissing, and oral sex. There is no cure for cold sores.
Can a Weak Immune System Cause Cancer?Your immune system plays a vital role in maintaining your health. Although some cancers are caused by genetic mutations, some other factors like old age and a weakened immune system can also play a significant role in causing the disease.
CancerCancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Cancer PainCancer pain is a common experience that may result from the disease, treatment, or diagnostic procedure. Check out the center below for more medical references on cancer, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related disease conditions, treatment and diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
Top Cancer-Fighting FoodsExperts have praised certain foods for their ability to reduce cancer risks. Learn which foods and eating strategies may help reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Cancer QuizTake this quiz to learn the causes of cancer. Get the facts about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for the world's most common cancers.
What Are Causes of Blisters in the Mouth?What causes blisters inside the mouth? Learn why they appear and what to do if you have mouth blisters.
What Is the Survival Rate of Salivary Gland Cancer?The survival rate of salivary gland cancer depends on several factors. The overall five-year survival rate for salivary gland cancer in the United States is 75 percent. The survival rate depends on the type and stage of the salivary gland cancer. The five-year survival rate for people with early-stage (localized) salivary gland cancer is 94 percent. The five-year survival rate for people with salivary gland cancer that spreads to nearby structures and lymph nodes is 67 percent. The five-year survival rate for people with advanced-stage (metastatic) cancer is 44 percent.