Know Cancer

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  • Oral Cancer

    Oral cancer can arise in any part of the mouth, lips, or oropharynx (the part of the throat that connects to the back of the mouth). When cells displaying uncontrolled growth, invasion, and/or metastasis arise anywhere in the oral cavity, a cancer may develop. These cells, having undergone an anomalous transformation that causes them to proliferate abnormally, form a structure called a neoplasm. If this neoplasm destroys adjacent tissues, and/or spreads to other areas of the body, a cancer is formed.

    You can learn more about the symptoms of oral cancer, stages of oral cancer, the treatment of oral cancer, or check out the Oral Cancer Foundation for more info.

    Approximately 29,000 cases of this disease are diagnosed annually in the United States.

    Oral Cancer Risk Factors

    • Age: Oral cancer typically affects people over the age of 40. Recently, however, smokers under the age of 50 are among the fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients.
    • Tobacco Use: The inhalation of tobacco smoke and/or the chewing of tobacco leaves introduces an array of harmful chemicals into the oral cavity. These chemicals, over time, may lead to cellular mutations that can cause cancer. Approximately 75% of all oral cancer diagnoses involve tobacco users.
    • Alcohol Consumption: Studies suggest that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to cancer-causing cellular mutations.
    • Chronic Viral Infection: Any persistent viral infection that causes chronic inflammation of the oral cavity may lead to the development of an oral cancer. Human papilloma virus (HPV) has also been linked to oral cancer development.
    • Sun Exposure: Oral cancer arising on the lips is often the aftereffect of prolonged exposure to the sun. The sun’s rays may lead to cancer-causing cellular mutations.
    • X-Ray Exposure: X-rays may introduce the harmful effects of radiation into the body. Radiation is a leading cause of cellular mutations that may result in a cancer.
    • Hygiene: Poor oral hygiene may lead to the buildup of bacteria and fungi in the oral cavity that may elevate a person’s chances of developing oral cancer.

    Oral Cancer Outlook

    Oral cancer frequently yields a poor prognosis because of its tendency to progress aggressively, unnoticed by the patient until the disease has metastasized to other areas of the body. For this reason, oral cancer is associated with a high death rate.

    Oral Cancer Prevention

    • Stop Smoking and/or Chewing Tobacco: If you are a tobacco user, talk to your healthcare provider about treatments, therapies, and social networks that can help you quit. If you don’t smoke or chew tobacco, don’t start. Smokers and chewers of tobacco will immediately reduce the amount of harmful chemicals in their bodies if they quit.
    • Brush, Floss, and Rinse: Good oral hygiene will keep your teeth, lips, and mouth looking and feeling great. Furthermore, good oral hygiene may lead to the prevention of oral cancer.
    • Diet: Reduce the amount of processed foods that you ingest. Many of the chemicals associated with processed foods may lead to cellular mutations that can cause cancer.
    • Consume Alcohol in Moderation: Women should limit their alcohol consumption to no more than one beverage per day. Men can healthily consume as many as two alcoholic beverages per day.