Mouth cancer or oral cancer is a cancer that affects the mouth and the areas surrounding the mouth both inside the mouth as well as outside. Mouth cancer is considered as a type of head and neck cancer and is therefore treated in a similar fashion. Mouth or oral cancer is known to affect people who are above the age group of 40 and is known to be more prevalent in men than women. Learn more about what is mouth cancer, symptoms, causes and treatment of mouth cancer here.
What is mouth Cancer:
Mouth Cancer is a cancer that affects the mouth, lips, tongue, throat, gums, cheeks, and tonsils. Mouth cancer is also referred to as oral cancer.
Mouth cancer or oral cancer is caused when there is an alteration or mutation in the genetic makeup of the DNA causing the cells to grow at an abnormal rate and manner leading to the growth of tumors. Mouth Cancer or oral cancer first spreads to various parts of the mouth moving on to the neck and head. If mouth cancer is left untreated it can affect the lymphatic system and ultimately spread to the rest of the body.
The exact cause of mouth cancer is largely unknown other than the fact that it is caused by a mutation in the squamous cells of the mouth.
Symptoms of Mouth Cancer (oral cancer)
Mouth Cancer may not show any evident symptoms during the early stages of the disease. The most common symptoms of mouth cancer are:
• Persistent Mouth ulcers.
• Red or red/white patches inside the mouth or tongue.
• Mouth sores.
• Swelling in the mouth that persists over many weeks.
• A lump in the lining of the mouth.
• Pain when swallowing.
• Loosening of teeth.
• Stiffness and pain in the Jaw.
• Sore throat along with a sensation of something stuck in the throat.
• Pain in the tongue.
• Hoarseness of voice.
• Pain in the neck.
While these are symptoms of mouth cancer or oral cancer, they can also be indicators of other problems. It is advisable to get these symptoms diagnosed immediately by a doctor to confirm if these signs are symptoms of mouth cancer.
Risk Factors of Mouth Cancer(oral cancer)
The risk factors for mouth cancer include:
• Consumption of tobacco and betel nut and leaf(Smoking, Chewing tobacco, Taking snuff)
• Both heavy and regular alcohol consumption.
• Heavy smoking combined with heavy drinking
• Over exposure to the sun.
• High consumption of processed meat, red meat and fried food.
• Disease like GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease, HPV (human papillomavirus) infection.
• Previous instances of radiation treatment in the head or neck.
• Exposure chemicals like asbestos, sulphuric acid and formaldehyde.
Stages of Mouth Cancer(Oral cancer)
The stages of mouth cancer or oral cancer are:
• Stage I – the tumor is less than 2cm in diameter and the mouth cancer has not spread to the lymphatic system.
• Stage II – The mouth cancer tumor is less than 4 cm in diameter and the mouth cancer tumor has not reached the lymphatic system.
• Stage III – The mouth cancer tumor is bigger than 4 cm in diameter or the tumor has spread to one of the lymph nodes that is near it or the cancer in the lymph node is less than 3 cm in diameter.
• Stage IV – The mouth cancer has spread to the oral cavity, the tumor has affected to atleast two lymph node near the tumor,the cancer has spread to lymph nodes on the other side of the neck or the tumor in the lymph nodes is bigger than 6 cm in diameter.