Mouth cancer: What are the causes and symptoms?
Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, can develop on the surface of the tongue, the inside of the cheeks, the roof of the mouth and the lips or gums. Like all cancers, there’s currently no cure, but early diagnosis can help ensure more successful treatment. Experiencing a difficulty swallowing could indicate your risk.
Swallowing problems can be caused by different health problems including certain types of cancer said The American Cancer Society.
It continued: “There can be problems with motor function, meaning messages sent from the brain aren’t getting to the oesophagus to tell to swallow.
“This can be caused by a problem in the brain or nervous system, such as a stroke, nervous system disorder, neuropathy, or tumour affecting the brain.
“Or there can be something blocking food or fluids during swallowing, such as a large clump of food, foreign object, a narrowing of the oesophagus or a tumour in or pressing on the oesophagus.”
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Mouth cancer can cause pain or a burning sensation when chewing and swallowing food.
A person might feel like their food is sticking in their throat and not going down.
Difficulty swallowing can also be caused by a narrowing of the food pipe (oesophagus).
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Other symptoms of mouth cancer include:
• Sore mouth ulcers that do not heal for several weeks
• A white or reddish patch on the inside of your mouth
• Unexplained, persistent lumps in the lymph glands in the neck that do not go away
• Pain or difficulty swallowing dysphagia
• Changes in your voice
• Unintentional weight loss
• One or more teeth that becomes loose for no obvious reason, or a tooth socket that does not heal after tooth removal
• Difficulty moving your jaw
• Red or white patches in your mouth
According to the NHS, if mouth cancer is found early, surgery may be used, which has a high chance of stopping the cancer, so it does not come back.
“That’s why you should report any changes in your mouth to a dentist and doctor if they do not get better after three weeks,” advises the health body.
Many of the common symptoms can be caused by less serious conditions, such as an infection.
Research suggests that more than 60 out of 100 (more than 60 percent) of mouth and oropharyngeal cancers in the UK are caused by smoking.
“There is some evidence that people exposed to second-hand smoke (passive smoking) at home or in the workplace may have a small increase in their risk of mouth and oropharyngeal cancer,” says Cancer Research UK.
Drinking alcohol increases your risk of mouth and oropharyngeal cancer.
Research shows around 30 out of 100 (30 percent) of mouth and oropharyngeal cancers are caused by drinking alcohol.
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