Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer or oral cavity cancer, is a type of cancer that affects the lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, roof or floor of the mouth, and the throat. It occurs when cells in the mouth mutate and grow uncontrollably, forming a tumor.
The main risk factors for oral cancer include tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables, and exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV). Symptoms may include mouth sores that don’t heal, persistent pain in the mouth, difficulty swallowing or speaking, and changes in the way teeth fit together.
Treatment for oral cancer depends on the stage of the cancer and the location of the tumor. It may involve surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. In some cases, reconstructive surgery may be necessary to restore the function and appearance of the mouth and throat.
Early detection of oral cancer is key to successful treatment and survival. Regular dental check-ups can help identify potential problems in the mouth, and any changes in the mouth or throat that persist for more than two weeks should be evaluated by a doctor or dentist. Quitting tobacco use, limiting alcohol consumption, and eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables can also help reduce the risk of developing oral cancer.