Just as humans are born, grow, and then die when their lives end, so too do the cells that make up the human body. Most of these trillions of cells do not survive longer than they are needed. Some cells, however, survive too long and grow uncontrollably. This inappropriate cell growth indicates cancer. Cancer that begins in the mouth is classified as mouth cancer. Only heart disease surpasses cancer as a leading cause of death in the United States.
What Parts of the Mouth Might Be Affected?
Mouth cancer can develop anywhere in the oral cavity. The parts of the mouth where it can occur include the floor of the mouth, such as under the tongue, and the roof of the mouth. As well, this type of cancer can appear on the tongue, the lips, the gums, and the inner lining of the cheeks. Due to its location, mouth cancer is also referred to as oral cavity cancer or oral cancer. It is a member of the larger category of head and neck cancers.
What Are Some Symptoms?
People who are developing mouth cancer might feel pain in their ears, in their mouths, or after swallowing. These individuals may also notice a lump, a growth, or an unusual patch inside their mouths. Having loose teeth or sores on the mouth or lip that do not heal could also indicate mouth cancer. A doctor or dentist, such as a professional who works at Glen Ellyn dental care, can investigate the causes of these symptoms.
What Risk Factors Exist?
Someone who has the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted, may be at increased risk. People whose immune systems have been weakened, or whose lips have been excessively exposed to the sun, could also be more likely to develop mouth cancer. As well, heavy consumption of alcohol or the use of tobacco products might make an individual more vulnerable to this disease. Avoiding excessive drinking, abstaining from using tobacco products, and scheduling regular dental appointments can all play a role in reducing the risk of, and possibly preventing, mouth cancer.