About Oral Cancer. Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

Studies have shown that more than over half of the patients diagnosed with oral cancer in the USA survive after five years. This means that if this condition is discovered on time, the chances of successful treatment are high.

Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissues. Oral cancer appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away. Oral cancer, which includes cancer of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate sinuses, and throat, can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.

The symptoms of mouth or throat cancer may include:

  • Persistent mouth sores. A sore in the mouth that does not heal is the most common sign of oral cancer.
  • Areas or lesions in your mouth or lips.
  • Swellings that make wearing dentures uncomfortable.
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw.
  • Loosening of the teeth.
  • A lump in the neck.
  • Numbness of the tongue or elsewhere in your mouth.
  • Unexpected bleeding in the mouth.
  • Chronic sore throat or change in voice.

A person who has any of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks, should see a dentist or a doctor for an oral cancer examination. This not means that you have cancer. These could be signs of an infection or of another problem. But it is important to have these symptoms checked out because if it is cancer, the earlier you detect it, the more successfully it will be treated.

Factors that contribute to oral cancer

  • Smoking and tobacco use. Smoking can lead to cancer in the mouth or throat, while tobacco products are associated with cancer in the checks, gums and inner surface of the lips.
  • Alcohol. The majority of people diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers. The risk is higher for people who smoke and also drink alcohol.
  • History family cancer.
  • The Human papilloma virus (HPV) has been associated with cancers of the oropharyngeal region (the part of the throat at the back of the mouth).
  • Sun. Cancer of the lips may be caused by sun exposure.
  • Your diet. A diet low in fruits and vegetables may play a role in oral cancer development.

How to prevent oral cancer

  • Do not smoke or use any tobacco products, and drink alcohol in moderation.
  • Limit your exposure to the sun.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Always brush and floss your teeth regularly.
  • See your dentist twice a year, for regular check-ups.
  • Choose foods that are known as fighters against cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends you eat a lot of beans, berries, cruciferous vegetable (like cabbage and broccoli), dark green leafy vegetables, garlic, grapes, green tea, tomatoes.

Keep in mind that the risk of developing oral cancer increases with age. So take care of you and the beloved ones.

If you need an examination, call Dr. Arhiri. He will check your face, neck, lips, tongue, mouth, and the back of the throat for possible signs of cancer. 610.674.7611 is Premier Smiles’ phone number.