Oral cancer is an umbrella term than encompasses all cancers of the mouth and the back of the throat, or the pharynx. In all, these cancers account for about two percent of all diagnosed cancers in the United States each year.
Every year, about 35,000 people receive an oral cancer diagnosis and nearly 7,600 die from such diseases. Significantly, 60 percent of diagnosed patients will survive for than five years, on average. These cancers occur most often in patients older than 40 years of age and in more than twice as many men than women.
A variety of lifestyle and other factors contribute to an individual’s risk of developing oral cancer. As a person ages, his or her risk of developing one or more of these cancers increases.
The use of tobacco products, alcohol or both causes the most cases of cancers of the mouth and throat. However, tobacco use poses a greater risk to an individual than alcohol consumption of developing these diseases.
Patients dealing with sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are also at significant risk of developing oral cancer. Specifically, the HPV 16 strain poses the greatest risk.
An individual’s diet can also play a significant role in the development of oral cancer. Specifically, a lack of fruits and vegetables in one’s diet can increase risk. Patients can also risk cancer of the lip through excessive exposure to the sun.
Overall, mouth cancer manifests itself in different ways from person to person. However, you should reach out to your dentist immediately if you experience any oral cancer signs or symptoms that cause you concern.
To list, some of the most common signs and symptoms of these cancers include red or white patches in the mouth, mouth numbness, pain in one ear without accompanying hearing loss and difficulty chewing or swallowing.
Patients can also experience oral swelling, difficulty with jaw or tongue movement, a feeling that something is stuck in the throat, or sores, irritation or lumps in the mouth. If you experience any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, then you should consult your dentist immediately.