n the United States, there are about 53,000 new cases of oral cancer, or three percent of all cancer recorded yearly. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control for Prevention (CDC) identified 47,813 new cases of Oral Cavity and Pharynx cancer, of which 10,492 died. However, this type of cancer has a high survival rate, especially when diagnosed in the early stages.
In line with the celebration of Oral Cancer Awareness Month this April, Advanced Indiana is dedicated to providing oral health information that can help you. For you to have an idea of the alarming symptoms of oral cancer, we identified a few uncommon signs that need immediate medical attention.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer, also known as oropharyngeal cancer and mouth cancer, is cancer of the mouth and the back of the throat. It is also identified as oral cavity cancer that is commonly developed on the tongue, behind the wisdom teeth, and in the gums.
This type of cancer begins in the squamous cells of your mouth cavity or the flat cells that cover the surfaces of the mouth. According to the American Cancer Society, the staging system for oral cancer is the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system. This includes the extent of the tumor, the spread to nearby lymph nodes, and the metastasis or spread to distant organs.
The different types of oral cancer include lip cancer, Squamous cell carcinoma, Verrucous carcinoma, and Minor salivary gland carcinomas, among others. Oral or oropharyngeal cancer belongs to the same group as head and neck cancer, and these have similar risk factors.
What Causes Oral Cancer?
Some of the risk factors of oral cancer are age and family history. Meanwhile, here are a few lifestyle, and physical factors that can increase the risk of cancer:
Tobacco and alcohol use
A number one culprit that causes oral cancer is the excessive use of Tobacco. This involves any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and even chewing of tobacco. Meanwhile, alcohol users must also be careful because heavy alcohol drinking also has many adverse effects. In fact, those who use tobacco and drink alcohol have a 15 times greater risk for oral cancers than those who do not.
Human Papilloma Virus
Human Papilloma Virus is a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cancer. Aside from cancer of the penis, cervix, vigina, and anus, this type of virus also causes cancer of the mouth and throat. Accordingly, 70% of oropharyngeal cancers in the United States are caused by HPV.
Prolonged sun exposure can cause oropharyngeal cancers, particularly lip cancer. This is why it is a must to use sun protection and avoid other sources of ultraviolet radiation.
Sometimes, cancer is also linked to wounds. In the case of oral health, broken teeth that cause ulcers or wounds can increase the possibility of oral cancer development. Thus, it is essential to keep your mouth and teeth in good condition.