It is easy to catch oral cancer in its early stages, as the symptoms are easy to notice. One may examine their oral cavity for different signs and symptoms of oral cancer and see a doctor if something is not normal.
Anyone can get oral cancer. However, it most commonly occurs in people over the age of 40. Further, men are at greater risk of getting oral cancer than women. Certain factors increase the risk of oral cancer. These include excessive tobacco use, high alcohol consumption, and frequent exposure to sun radiation. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is also an important risk factor for oral cancer.
Most signs and symptoms of oral cancer overlap with those of other common oral disorders. It is thus important to consult with the doctor if the symptoms persist or worsen. Some of the symptoms of oral cancer are:
Patients with lip cancer develop sores on the lips that do not heal and progressively worsen. Although lip sores may occur anywhere on the upper and lower lips, there is a greater likelihood of developing sores on the lower lip.
Benign oral ulcers generally heal within two weeks. However, oral ulcers due to oral cancer do not heal within two weeks and easily bleed. Further, in most cases, the ulcers due to cancer are not painful at the initial stage. However, the pain develops as the condition progresses.
Patients with oral ulcers also experience white or red patches inside the oral cavity, including the area under the tongue. Cancer of the oral cavity can be caught early if one pays attention to this symptom.
Concerns for red patches are higher than those for white patches; however, both should be evaluated if they do not heal within a few weeks.
Bleeding, especially unexplained bleeding, may also occur in patients with oral cancer. It may be due to tumor invasion, angiogenesis, or damage to the gums.
Loose teeth without any obvious cause may also be one of the symptoms of oral cancer. It may be due to the invasion of the tumor into the base of the teeth. Patients should consult their doctor to rule out oral cancer.
When the cancerous cells divide uncontrollably, they form a tumor or lump. This lump can be felt during a comprehensive oral examination. This is one of the roof of mouth cancer symptoms.
Swelling and tenderness are the signs and symptoms of various oral diseases, including oral cancer.
Patients with oral cancer have trouble chewing for various reasons. These include pain due to sores and the loosening of teeth.
Patients with tongue cancer experience difficulty swallowing food.
Patients with oral cancer also lose weight due to malnutrition and insufficient calorie intake. These patients have difficulty chewing and swallowing food.
Ear pain may also be a symptom of oral cancer. The patients experience fullness in their ears and symptoms resembling trigeminal neuralgia.
Oral malodor also occurs in patients with oral cancer due to nasal obstruction, tissue necrosis, and poor oral hygiene.
Some other symptoms of oral cancer are:
It is a condition characterized by the presence of white patches inside the cheeks, on the tongue, and on the gums. These are also the symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity. Patients with leukoplakia do not experience pain. However, the condition persists and may develop into oral cancer.
Erythroplakia refers to a precancerous condition of the oral cavity. The presence of lesions on the mucosa of the oral cavity characterizes Erythroplakia. It easily bleeds when scraped.
In some patients with oral cancer, both leukoplakia and erythroplakia exist, and this condition is known as erythroleukoplakia.
Oral cancer risk increases due to various factors. The following are possible mouth cancer reasons:
People often ask, “Can smoking cause mouth cancer?”
Smoking causes mouth cancer and is the most common cause of oral cancer. People who smoke have an increased risk of oral cancer compared to people who do not smoke. Carcinogenic substances present in tobacco cause DNA mutations, resulting in the development of oral cancer.
The tobacco juice from hookah irritates the oral mucosa and may become a possible cause of mouth cancer. Studies have reported that the repair index of the oral mucosa in patients using hookah is significantly lower.
Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the possible reasons for oral cancer.
Exposure to solar radiation may cause lip cancer. Continuous solar radiation on the lips results in disruptive and non-disruptive mutations, causing lip cancer.
People with one or more family members diagnosed with oral cancer may also have a higher risk of developing oral cancer.
Often, it is observed that oral cancer is caused by an HPV infection. HPV alters the normal cellular characteristics of the oral epithelium, which may be one of the reasons for oral cancer.
The signs of oral cancer include oral and lip sores, white and red patches, ear pain, weight loss, difficulty chewing and swallowing, and halitosis. Possible causes for oral cancer include excessive consumption of tobacco and alcohol, solar exposure, family history of oral cancer, and HPV infection.