Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue. Oral cancer appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away. Oral cancer, which includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, and hard palate, can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. This cancer accounts for less than 5% of all cancers in the United states.
If you notice any of these changes, contact a health care professional immediately for an exam.
Who Gets Oral Cancer?
Men account for 70% of oral cancers, with men over age 50 having the greatest risk. Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer among men.
Risk factors for oral cancer include:
Smoking. Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancers.
Smokeless tobacco users. Users of snuff or chewing tobacco increase their risk of cancer to the oral cavity.
Excessive consumption of alcohol. Oral cancers are about six times more common in drinkers than in nondrinkers. Although alcohol is less potent than tobacco in causing oral cancers, the combination of alcohol with tobacco results in a much higher risk of developing oral cancers, compared to either agent alone.