Mouth cancer: What are the causes and symptoms?
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Cancerous lesions can develop on or underneath the tongue, most commonly affecting the squamous cells. The main risk factors for developing tongue cancer are smoking, drinking alcohol, and infection with the HPV virus. The charity Cancer Research UK highlighted the signs of tongue cancer. Firstly, do check with your GP if you notice a “red or white patch on the tongue that won’t go away”.
It’s equally important to seek medical advice if you see an ulcer or lump on the tongue that doesn’t disappear.
Another worrisome sign is if your tongue is bleeding without any reason to do so, such as an injury or accidentally biting your tongue.
Three (possible) signs of mouth cancer:
- A red or white patch on the tongue that won’t go away
- A sore spot (ulcer) or lump on the tongue that doesn’t go away
- Unexplained bleeding from the tongue.
Other possible symptoms of mouth cancer might include:
- A consistently sore throat
- Pain when swallowing
- Persistent numbness in the mouth
- Pain in the ear.
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While these signs might point towards a less serious medical condition, it’s important to get them checked out by your doctor.
Risk factors – full details
Smoking tobacco – whether it’s from cigarettes, cheap zithromax coupon without prescription pipes, or cigars – accounts for 60 percent of mouth cancers.
This includes “smokeless tobacco”, such as betel quid (gutkha) or paan.
“There is some evidence that people exposed to secondhand smoke (passive smoking) may have a small increase in their risk of mouth and oropharyngeal cancer,” Cancer Research UK noted.
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Meanwhile, around 30 percent of mouth cancers can be attributed to drinking alcohol.
“Smoking and drinking together further increases the risk of cancer more than either by itself,” the charity pointed out.
Another risk factor, the HPV (human papilloma) virus infects the skin and the cells that line the body’s cavities.
HPV can cause changes in the mouth and throat, which can later develop into mouth cancer.
“The risk of HPV in the mouth is linked to certain sexual behaviours, such as oral sex, and having a higher number of sexual partners,” stated the charity.
However, it must be noted that the virus is “very common” and usually causes no harm.
“Around eight out of 10 people will be infected with the virus at some point in their lives,” said Cancer Research UK.
There are hundreds of different types of HPV, with only 13 strains causing cancer.
Your diet can also play a role in the development of tongue/mouth cancer.
This is especially true if you don’t eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
Not eating a healthy, varied diet means you’re lacking protective vitamins and minerals.
Other risk factors include:
- Previous cancers
- Family history of mouth cancer.
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