The 7 warning signs of oral cancer you should not miss

Symptoms of oral cancer include difficulty chewing, bumps and sores, and white or red patches in the mouth. Detecting and treating oral cancer early can help prevent the cancer from growing further or spreading to other areas.

Oral cancer is caused by the uncontrolled growth and reproduction of cells in certain areas of the mouth. It can occur on the inside of the cheeks, under the middle and front of the tongue, or on the tissue lining the mouth or gumline. More men than women are diagnosed with oral cancer.

Warning signs and symptoms of oral cancer

If a person experiences difficulty swallowing and pain around the throat, they should see a doctor. Symptoms of oral cancer vary, but anyone who experiences any of the following symptoms for more than 2 weeks should see a doctor for a diagnosis:

– difficulty chewing or swallowing
– a lump or sore area in the mouth, throat or on the lips
– a white or red patch in the mouth
– difficulty moving the tongue or jaw
– unexpected weight loss
– a sore or ulcer that does not heal or is bleeding
– tenderness, pain or lumps anywhere in the mouth or on the lips.

It is important to remember, however, that these are not definitive signs of oral cancer, but can be caused by other conditions, such as an allergy or infection.

What are the causes and risk factors?

Experts believe that mutations in a cell’s DNA cause cancer by stimulating abnormal growth and cell death. Although it is still unclear what triggers the initial mutation in many cases, some specific factors may increase the risk of oral cancer.

These include in particular:

Tobacco and alcohol consumption: Any form of tobacco consumption involves the entry of carcinogenic substances into the mouth, which greatly increases the risk of oral cancer. Excessive alcohol consumption can also increase the risk.

Age: the risk of oral cancer increases with age, the average age of diagnosis being 62 years.

Human papillomavirus (HPV): This is a sexually transmitted infection that is strongly associated with several forms of oral cancer.

Sun exposure: The sun emits rays that can burn the lips and trigger the development of oral cancer.

Gender: Men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer, but it’s not clear why.


As with most other cancers, oral cancer cannot always be prevented. Some risk factors for oral cancer, such as being male or getting older, cannot be avoided. However, certain lifestyle factors may reduce the risk of oral cancer, including:

– avoid tobacco
– consume alcohol in moderation
– have a healthy diet
– use sunscreen, sunscreen or lip balm on the lips when exposed to the sun
– exercise regularly
– have good oral hygiene
– go to the dentist regularly for check-ups.

Why is early detection so important?

In most forms of cancer, early diagnosis is crucial. Oral cancer treatment usually involves a combination of therapies, such as radiation and chemotherapy, which are much more effective in the early stages. If the cancer has spread to other areas, it becomes much more difficult to isolate and treat. If the cancer has not spread to surrounding tissue, 5-year survival rates for oral cancer of the lip, tongue, and floor of the mouth range from 75 to 93 percent. These numbers drop if the cancer has spread to surrounding tissue.

To remember :

The warning signs of mouth cancer are mouth sores, white or red spots, tenderness or pain. Anyone with these symptoms should see their doctor. Early diagnosis increases the chances of successful treatment. Quitting smoking and using tobacco products can reduce the risk of developing mouth cancer.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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