Approximately 90 percent of those diagnosed with oral cancer or pharyngeal cancer (including cancer of the mouth, tongue, lips, throat, parts for the nose, and larynx) are tobacco users.
What are the Risk Factors for Oral Cancers?
All forms of tobacco increase a person's risk of oral cancer. In fact, smokers are six times more likely to get an oral cancer than nonsmokers.
Heavy, regular alcohol consumption is a risk factor for oral cancer. It's estimated that 75 to 80 percent of those with oral cancer drink alcohol frequently. Like smokers, people who drink a lot of alcohol on a regular basis are also six times more likely to get an oral cancer than nondrinkers.
- Tobacco and Alcohol
The risk for oral cancer that each substance represents is compounded when they are used together.
It appears that men contract oral cancer at twice the rate of women, due to the fact that they are more likely to smoke and drink heavily for longer periods of time than females.
After the age of 40, the risk of oral cancer increases, with 60 being the average age of diagnosis.
Other Risk Factors
- Viral infections
- Poor nutrition
- Exposure to ultraviolet light (responsible for many cases of cancer to the lips)
- Certain occupational exposures
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
- Sores in the mouth or on the lips that don't heal and/or bleed easily.
- A white or red patch of skin in the mouth or under the tongue that doesn't go away.
- A lump in the mouth, throat, or tongue.
- A sore throat that doesn't go away within a normal period of time.
- Swallowing and/or chewing is difficult or painful.
Oral cancer screening is a normal part of dental checkups, so visit your dentist on a regular basis to get your teeth cleaned. It's one of the best ways to catch oral cancer early.
Additional Oral Cancer Resources:Diagnosed with Oral Cancer - Marlene's Story
Oral and Head and Neck Cancer
Oral Cancer Photo Gallery
Most oral cancers could be avoided by not using tobacco and/or drinking heavily. If you fall into this risk category, use the information here as a springboard to help you get serious about quitting. Tobacco is a toxic killer and offers you nothing more than disease and ultimately, death.