Mouth cancer is one of the less known types of cancer as it usually attacks people over the age of 40. However, the disease is increasingly being seen in people under this age particularly tobacco users. Mouth cancer will more likely kill a victim than say cervical cancer because many people are not aware they have it until it is too late.
What causes mouth cancer
Mouth cancer has been linked to alcohol and tobacco use in many cases. It is more prevalent in communities that have a culture of chewing tobacco. Users of gutkha, paan, and betel quid have been the largest segment of mouth cancer victims. Smoking tobacco is also a risk factor.
The disease has also been linked to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). This virus often attacks the cervical lining in women. However, it is being linked to mouth cancer in individuals who practice oral sex.
People who are over 40 years and fit the risk profiles are more susceptible to mouth cancer than those in the lower ages.
Signs and symptoms
Mouth cancer can attack any part of the mouth including lips, tongue, throat, sinuses, pharynx and larynx. Dr. Rob Andrew says some of the early symptoms are;
- Red or white lesions in the mouth or on the lips
- Swellings, lumps, sores and thick patches in any part of the mouth or the throat.
- Difficulty and discomfort when speaking, chewing, swallowing and when moving the jaw.
- Feeling like there is a lump in the throat
- Prolonged sore throat
- Pain, numbness or tenderness in any part of the mouth even on the tongue.
- Loss of teeth with no visible reason.
The Urban Smiles Family Dental clinic recommends regular dental check-ups to identify any signs of trouble. As well as checking on the health of the teeth and gums, the dentist is able to observe any anomalies on other parts of the mouth including the tongue and lips.
If detected, treatment for mouth cancer will require surgery which will be followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Early detection is the best defense against the disease.
Can it be prevented?
Like other cancers, mouth cancer will be triggered by favourable conditions like presence of toxins from tobacco and alcohol. Reduction or kicking away chewing and smoking tobacco can reduce the risks of developing the disease.
Good oral hygiene for people who use tobacco and alcohol is also recommended. Proper brushing and flossing should be done. Regular visits to the dentist can also help detect any danger signs.
Urban Smiles Family Dental