What is oral cancer?
Oral cancers are malignant tumors that occur anywhere inside the mouth. Most oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas that start in the surface lining of the mouth. The most common location is the lip or tongue, but oral cancers can occur anywhere in the mouth. Common symptoms include pain, a sore that does not heal, and problems with talking or swallowing.
Alcohol and tobacco use are the biggest risk factors for oral cancer. It is more common in men than in women and typically occurs after the age of 40. Each year, about 37,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with some type of oral cancer (Source: ACS).
Oral cancers, when caught early, are often treatable with either surgery or radiation therapy, depending upon their location and size. After surgery to remove the cancer, reconstructive surgery can help restore structures that have been removed and rehabilitation can help you relearn how to eat, swallow or talk, if needed.
Emergencies related to oral cancers are rare. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as uncontrolled or heavy bleeding or changes that make it difficult to swallow or breathe. Seek prompt medical care if you develop sores or lumps in your mouth, or if you start having problems eating, swallowing or speaking.
What are the symptoms of oral cancer?
Oral cancer may start as a sore or lump in the mouth that does not go away. Problems with eating, swallowing and talking may occur, and the sense of taste may be altered. Lymph nodes in the neck may be enlarged and unexplained weight loss may occur.... Read more about oral cancer symptoms
What causes oral cancer?
What causes cells to undergo changes that lead to cancer is not known; however, several risk factors are known, including tobacco use, which is the strongest single risk factor for developing cancer of the mouth, and alcohol use.... Read more about oral cancer causes
How is oral cancer treated?
Treatment of oral cancer begins with seeking regular medical care throughout your life, including regular dental care. Regular medical care allows a health care professional to provide early screening tests. Regular medical care also provides an opportunity for your health care professional to promptly evaluate symptoms and your risks for developing oral cancer.... Read more about oral cancer treatments