Oral Cancer (Mouth Cancer) Symptoms
Oral Cancer is caused by the uncontrollable growth of cells of the oral tissues including gums, tongue and throat, that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissues. Oral cancer begins as a growth or ulcer in the mouth that does not heal and go away. Oral cancer, which includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, and hard palate, can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. While oral cancer accounts for less than 5% of all cancers in the United states, the morbidity rate of this cancer is very high.
Possible warning signs of oral cancer
- color change in oral tissues
- pain and tenderness anywhere in the oral cavity
- bleeding sores
- sores that do not heal
- lumps or thick, hard spots
- soreness or feeling that something is caught in the throat
- difficulty chewing or swallowing
- ear ache
- difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
- numbness of the tongue;
- changes in the way teeth fit together
Medical organizations disagree on whether healthy people without risk factors for mouth cancer need oral cancer screening. Orillia and Barrie Dentist Dr. Adam Tan of Georgian Dental recommends patients even without exposure risk factors after a certain age, typically 40 years old, should be screened at annually for oral cancer. No single oral exam or oral cancer screening test is proved to reduce the risk of dying of oral cancer. Such was the case with patient BM at Georgian Dental (see picture inset) who neither smoked nor drank alcohol.
Self Screening for mouth cancer – what you can do
You can do a few things to find early signs of mouth cancer.
- Have regular dental checkups, at least yearly – even if you have false teeth. Remember, oral cancer mostly affects the soft tissue not the enamel of your teeth
- Do not use tobacco of any kind including cigarettes ,cigars and pipes
- Drink alcohol moderately or avoid alcohol altogether
- Follow a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables – nutrient rich foods high in antioxidants
- Check inside your mouth with a small mirror for any changes that could be due to mouth cancer. Look at those high incidence areas – the floor of your mouth for example
- You need to report any changes that you find to your GP or dentist. This is especially important if you smoke and drink heavily.
Some Facts about Oral Cancer
- Oral cancer begins as a small white or red sore anywhere in the mouth. These can occur on the lips, gum tissue, tongue, palate, or cheek lining
- Oral cancer incidence increases with age, occurs most frequently over the age of 40
- Oral cancer is the 6th most common cancer among men and is becoming more common in women
- Tobacco users are more likely to develop oral cancer, especially if they also use alcohol
- On the other hand, about 25 percent of oral cancer patients have no known risk factors
- Studies have shown that the death rate from oral cancer is about 4 times higher for cigarette smokers than for non-smokers.
Oral Cancer Risk Factors
Do you know there are many other risk factors for causing oral cancer than tobacco? Anyone can get oral cancer, however some factors may increase your chances of developing the disease. These are:-
- Gender: Oral cancer and oropharyngeal cancer are twice as common in males as in females. This difference may be linked to the habit of using of alcohol and tobacco, the main oral cancer risk factor that is found more commonly in men than women. According to the American Cancer Society, the sex difference is decreasing among oral cancer patients as more women are using tobacco and drinking alcohol.
- Age: The average age at diagnosis for oral cancer is 62, and 2/3rd of patients with this disease are above age 55.
- Ultraviolet light: Cancers of the lip are more common among individuals who work outside under the sunlight with prolonged exposure to sunlight.
- Malnourishment: Studies have found a link between diets deficient in fruits and vegetables and an increased oropharynx and oral cancer risk.
- Genetic syndromes: Some inherited genetic mutations, which cause different syndromes in the body, carry a high risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancer. These include:
- Fanconi anemia: This blood condition is caused by inherited abnormalities in several genes. Problems can begin at an early age and often lead to leukemia or aplastic anemia. The risk of oral cancer among people with Fanconi anemia is up to 500 times higher than among the general population.
- Dyskeratosis congenita: This genetically linked syndrome can also cause aplastic anemia, and carries a very high risk of mouth and throat cancer occurring at an early age.
- Tobacco use: About 80% of people with oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers use tobacco in the form of cigarettes, chewing tobacco or snuff. The risk of developing oral cancer depends on the duration and frequency of tobacco use. Smoking can lead to cancer in the mouth or throat, and oral tobacco products are associated with cancer in the cheeks, gums, and inner surface of the lips.
- Alcohol: About 70% of people diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers. This risk is higher for people who use both alcohol and tobacco. For people who smoke and drink heavily, the risk of oral cancer may be as high as 100% more than the risk for people who do not smoke or drink.
- Betel quid: Many people in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and others parts of the world chew betel quid, a leaf from the betel plant wrapped around areca nut and lime. Chewing gutka, a combination of betel quid and tobacco, is also common. Both of these substances are associated with an increased oral cancer risks.
- Human Papilloma Virus: Many recent reports have linked mouth cancer to the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer and affects the skin that lines the moist areas of the body. HPV can be spread through oral sex, and research now suggests that HPV could soon rival smoking and drinking as one of the main causes of mouth cancer.
- Dental Factors: There is little evidence to show that bad oral hygiene, poorly fitting dental prostheses, faulty dental restorations, or misaligned or sharp teeth promotes oral cancer. Gorsky and Silverman evaluated 400 patients with oral cancer to determine whether dentures were a risk factor and found no correlation between the wearing of dentures and the patient’s cancer.
Preventive action can be taken to further reduce your cancer exposure that are deemed more holistic approaches including reducing any chronic inflammation and overal toxic load.
A consultation with a holistic practitioner is a good first step. Should you determine that one of your sources of toxicity happens to be the materials used in your dental restorations, Barrie dentist and Orillia Dentist Dr. Adam Tan and his associates can help with safe removal protocols and will work closely with your naturopathic practitioner.
Our practice is pioneering the a mercury safe and mercury free environment and developed MercuryRescue™ process to help patients make a difference. If you think we can help you, call today for a free consultation. For Barrie Dentist from Georgian Dental Barrie, call (705)739-6725. If you Orillia is closer to you, call Orillia Dentist from Georgian Dental Orillia at (705)325-1765 to we’ll help get your smile in style today!