Mouth cancer

What is mouth cancer?

Mouth/Oral cancer is when the cells in the mouth grow irregularly. This can be on the lips, cheek, tongue, gums, or roof of the mouth. Tumours that grow in the tonsils, pharynx (area of throat between mouth and windpipe) and salivary glands are not as common.

The severity of the mouth cancer is dependent on the type of mouth cancer, if the cancer has spread, how large the cancerous area is, and your overall health.

What causes and prevents mouth cancer?

Cancer doesn’t always appear as the result of a habit or bad health; however, the following can increase the likelihood of getting cancer:
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco, paan or betel nut.
  • If you drink a significant amount of alcohol.
  • Sunbed and sunlight exposure.
  • If you’ve previously had cancer.
  • HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)
  • Extremely poor hygiene or diet.  
  • A weakened immune system from other medical conditions
  • Genetics
To reduce the chances of getting mouth cancer we suggest avoiding the following:
  • Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco, paan or betel nut.
  • Drink in moderation and follow the guidance on the recommended units per week.
  • Avoid excessive use of sunbeds, and minimize the time spent in the sun. Always wear suncream.
  • Avoid eating unhealthily, maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet.

How to treat mouth cancer?

Mouth cancer can be treated in numerous ways, however, treatment depends on multiple factors like the location, size, if it has spread, your health and age, and, genetic malformation. Treatments can vary from radiotherapy, chemotherapy, medication, surgery, or immunotherapy.

Radiotherapy is when radiation is used to destroy or inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Chemotherapy is a medicinal treatment which destroys cancer cells.

Medication for cancer can vary depending on the type of cancer, the size if it has spread and the health of the patient.

Surgery may be performed to remove the cancer cells.

Immunotherapy is when the immune system is used to fend off and fight cancer cells, or sometimes is weakened to allow medication to become more effective.

How to spot mouth cancer/symptoms?

Oral cancer can grow anywhere in the mouth, from the lips, gums and tongue to the cheeks and roof of the mouth. It is important you see a medical professional should any of these symptoms apply to you and have been ongoing.
  • A lump or bump in the mouth, neck, lips, or throat.
  • Struggling with swallowing.
  • Red and or white patches.
  • Weight loss without intending to lose weight.
  • An ulcer that has not healed.
  • Bleeding or swelling.
  • Lack of mobility in the jaw.
  • Pain in the mouth region.
  • Struggling to speak or noticeable change of voice.
  • Bad breath.
  • Wobbly teeth, with no obvious cause.

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