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Causes and Risks For Oral Cancer


Oral cancer refers to cancer that develops in the mouth. It is one of the deadliest diseases of the mouth. This type of cancer can occur on the lips, gums, tongue, root of the mouth, the inner lining of the cheeks, and under the tongue.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Symptoms of mouth cancer may include:

  • Soreness on the Lips
  • Mouth Sore
  • Loose Teeth
  • Painful Swallowing
  • Mouth Pain
  • Ear Pain
  • Changes in Speech
  • Red or White Patches
  • Lump in the Neck
  • Bleeding in the Mouth
  • Sudden Weight Loss

Causes of Mouth Cancer

The most common causes of mouth cancer are tobacco and alcohol consumption. These include:

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Family History of Mouth Cancers
  • Exposure to the Sun
  • Poor Oral Hygiene
  • Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

Researchers have identified that men are more likely to get mouth cancer than women. People older than 50 who smoke and consume alcohol are highly at risk. The human papillomavirus (HPV) has also been associated with mouth cancers. It is advisable to go for regular dental checkups that are vital in detecting oral cancer early.

Effects of Tobacco and Alcohol


Cigarette smoking is considered as an important risk factor in oral cancer. Tobacco contains a large number of chemical carcinogens which have been shown to induce genetic changes of the p53 and H-ras genes.


Alcohol is known to develop oral cancer. It weakens liver metabolism and indirectly affects oral health. Also, there is some evidence that it might alter the p53 gene directly.

Stages of Oral Cancer

Once the diagnosis of mouth cancer is done, its stage is determined. Cancer staging is done in two ways: TNM and Number staging from I to IV.


  • ‘T’ refers to the primary tumor
  • ‘N’ refers to lymph nodes in the neck area
  • ‘M’ refers to metastasis

Number Staging

1: Cancer has started growing deeper into the tissues in the oral cavity. Being small in size and localized to the oral cavity, Stage 1 oral has not yet spread to lymph nodes.

2: Grown up to 4 cm in this stage

3: Developed larger than 4 cm and grown into the base of the tongue.

4: May vary in size. In this stage, the nearby bone, sinus, and skin may be involved.

Diagnosis of Oral Cancer

Your dentist will be able to diagnose mouth cancer by medical history, physical examination, endoscopy, biopsy, or imaging tests (CT scan, MRI, PET scan).

Treatment For Mouth Cancer

  • Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted-Drug Therapy
  • Radiosurgery
  • Biological Therapy
  • Palliative Care

Tips To Prevent Oral Cancer

  • Follow A Healthy Diet
  • Stop Consuming Tobacco and Alcohol
  • Inspect Mouth Regularly For Changes
  • Schedule Regular Dental Checkup

Schedule an appointment at Sandia Dental Care if you have any of the mentioned symptoms!