Oral Cancer Causes and Symptoms

Plaque and bad breath aren’t the only oral health issues you have to consider. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, around 48,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, with close to 10,000 dying from the disease annually.

Image of a woman with mouth cancer. Learn about mouth cancer cause and symptoms.

Oral Cancer Causes

Like other cancers, oral cancer invades body tissue. In this case, the cancer affects the mouth and/or throat. There are several risk factors that can increase a person’s odds of developing oral cancer. 

Tobacco use is one of the most notable factors, as smoking or chewing tobacco puts cancer-causing substances directly in contact with your mouth and throat. Excessive alcohol consumption is another factor that can increase the risk of oral cancer. Other factors include:

  • Being overweight
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Personal history of head or neck cancer

Oral Cancer Symptoms and Warning Signs

One of the most common signs of oral cancer is a mouth sore that won’t heal. Persistent mouth pain is also a very common symptom. The American Cancer Society lists several other oral cancer warning signs, including:

  • A lump or thickening in the cheek or neck
  • White or red patches on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
  • A persistent sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
  • Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth
  • Jaw swelling that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable
  • Loosening of the teeth
  • Voice changes
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Constant bad breath

Oral Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

A healthy lifestyle can help you lower your risk of oral cancer. Smoking cessation, limiting alcohol consumption, and regular exercise are all ways to help prevent cancer while improving your overall health.

Many oral cancer warning signs may signify other health issues, so it’s important to talk with a health professional. Early detection is critical for cancer and a doctor can help you determine if you are dealing with any health issues and offer a plan moving forward. Give us a call at 440-934-8810 or contact Westshore online to make an appointment with one of our physicians in Avon and other Cleveland locations.

Dr. Andrew Filitraut, D.O.

DISCLAIMER: This blog is for informational purposes only. It does not replace medical care from a licensed physician. If you have a medical concern, please contact your doctor.

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