What Is Oral Cancer and its Causes

What Is Oral Cancer and its Causes

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

Mention oral cancer and what comes to mind? Perhaps a lifelong smoker or tobacco chewer who has lesions in their cheek or gums. But oral cancer is much more than that. In fact, oral – or mouth – cancer refers to any cancer that develops inside the mouth, which in this case includes the lips, gums, soft palate, tongue, throat, inner linings of the cheeks, roof of the mouth, sinuses and under the tongue on the mouth floor. Here is more of what you need to know about oral cancer.

Signs and Symptoms

Cancer occurs when the uncontrolled growth of cells invades, destroying healthy cells. The most common signs of oral cancer include swelling, thickening, lumps, bumps, and sores on the lips, gums, tongue or other oral surfaces. Red, white or speckled patches in the mouth area may also indicate that a sign cancer could be present. Unexplained bleeding, soreness, tenderness, difficulty chewing, swallowing, or moving some part of the mouth or jaw may also be signs of concern with regard to diagnosing oral cancer. The same is true of unexplained ear pain, hoarseness, chronic sore throat or a change in vocal pitch, all of which are considered signs to seek medical care right away.

Causes and Contributing Factors

Smoking or chewing tobacco will increase your likelihood of developing some form of oral cancer. The same is true of those who drink excessively. It’s critical to note here, however, that while your risk of developing oral cancer increases dramatically due to tobacco and alcohol, a quarter of those who are diagnosed with oral cancer neither drink to excess or smoke. Too much time in the sun, especially if unprotected, can result in oral cancer, especially on the lips. Certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) are more apt to cause oral cancer, as can a family history. Left untreated, gastric reflux can increase your risk of esophageal cancer, which also is categorized as an oral cancer.


Any treatment for cancer depends on the type and progression of the disease, the patient’s overall health, and personal preferences. Treatment for most oral cancers may include removing some part or all of the affected area, which can result in scarring or disfigurement, sometimes necessitating reconstructive surgery.

Dental Care in Eugene

If you can’t think of a good reason to see your dentist at least twice a year, remember that in most cases, your dentist serves as the first line of defense to diagnose and protect you against oral cancer. If you smoke, drink or have family history of oral cancer, it is especially important to see your dentist early and often. If you live or work in the Eugene area and are looking for premiere dental care, look no further than 360 Dental. At each appointment, Dr. Ari Binder and his staff will check for any signs of cancer and disease, as well as ensure you have a dazzling smile. At 360 Dental we know that while our business is your teeth, your overall health is our main concern. Call us at (541) 689-1645 or click here and set up your appointment online.