What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer or oral cavity cancer, is a serious medical condition that affects various parts of the mouth and throat. It encompasses cancers that can develop in the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palates, sinuses, and throat.
Common Types of Mouth Cancer
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This is the most prevalent type of oral cancer and typically originates in the squamous cells lining the oral cavity. It can occur on the lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, or the roof of the mouth.
- Oral Cavity Cancer: This type includes cancers that develop in the oral cavity, such as those affecting the tongue, gums, and inner lining of the cheeks.
- Oropharyngeal Cancer: Oropharyngeal cancer involves the tonsils, the back of the throat, and the base of the tongue. It is associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV) in some cases.
- Lip Cancer: Lip cancer specifically affects the lip and can occur on the upper or lower lip.
Factors Increasing the Risk of Oral Cancer
While oral cancer can affect anyone, certain risk factors and lifestyle choices can increase the likelihood of developing this condition. These risk factors include:
- Tobacco Use: Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, as well as using smokeless tobacco products, significantly increases the risk of oral cancer.
- Alcohol Consumption: Heavy alcohol use, especially when combined with tobacco use, heightens the risk.
- Sun Exposure: Excessive sun exposure to the lips can lead to lip cancer.
- Age: The risk of oral cancer increases with age, with most cases occurring in individuals over 40.