Cancer of the mouth has long been associated with tobacco and alcohol use. Researchers believe that drinking alcohol and smoking cigars or cigarettes irritate the mouth’s mucus lining. This creates conditions that facilitate oral squamous cell carcinoma growth.
Cancer of the mouth is increasingly common in people who have never used tobacco products and rarely drink alcohol. Recently, researchers have concluded that exposure to fungus and viruses is responsible for a significant percentage of these cases. Specifically, the human papilloma virus (HPV16) has been identified as the biggest source of mouth cancer cases not involving alcohol or tobacco.
Not all occurrences of cancer of the mouth are related to alcohol, tobacco or persistent viral infections like HPV16. Over exposure to ultraviolet radiation (e.g., sunlight) is a known cause of lip and mouth cancer. Poor oral hygiene and ill-fitting dentures have also been linked to oral cancer. Research indicates a possible connection between cancer of the mouth and nutrition. People with diets low in fruits and vegetables seem to be more likely to have mouth cancer symptoms. A small number of people, develop mouth cancer from no clearly understood cause. It is believed that these “mystery cases” are genetic in origin.
Here are the warning signs of mouth cancer:
A lump of thickening of the skin on the inside lining of your mouth, unexplained numbness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck, a white or reddish patch on the inside of your mouth, the feeling that something is caught in your throat, a sudden change in the fit of dentures, unexplained bleeding from the mouth, persistent sore throat or hoarseness, difficult chewing or swallowing, an abnormal taste in the mouth, sudden dramatic weight loss, persistent bad breath, loose teeth and ear pain.