What Are the Causes of Mouth Cancer?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2018
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The main causes of mouth cancer is believed to be the use of tobacco-related products. People who smoke have a significantly greater risk of developing mouth cancer, and people who use smokeless tobacco are thought to be in much greater danger. Other causes of mouth cancer include heavy alcohol consumption over a long period of time, which is thought to be just about as bad as smoking. There is some evidence that a person's genetics plays a role as well, along with sun exposure.

Cancers develop when a person’s cells mutate. Usually, certain cells change so that they start reproducing faster than the body can handle. Eventually, a mass of cells starts to accumulate, and this is called a tumor. The causes of mouth cancer all have the potential to instigate this kind of change in the tissues of the mouth.

Mouth tumors usually feel like a small bump or sore, and the lesion might gradually grow over time. Sometimes the tissue around the area of the sore will change color. Many people might not realize that they are suffering from mouth cancer, because mouth sores are a relatively common occurrence and can be caused by a lot of different things. Doctors recommend that people who have high risk factors for developing mouth cancer, such as those who smoke or use smokeless tobacco, should be more sensitive to any mouth sores they might develop.


Mouth cancer's association with the use of tobacco products makes it very similar to lung cancer. Tobacco contains toxic chemicals that can damage cells in the body and generally increase the chances of mutation. With smoking, the irritant mostly affects the lungs, but it also can have an effect on the mouth. Chewing tobacco and other kinds of smokeless tobacco are thought to be much more significant causes of mouth cancer. In fact, studies have shown that these products are about seven times more likely to cause mouth cancer than smoking.

Alcohol, which has the potential to irritate the tissue in the mouth, also has been associated with a high number of mouth cancer cases. This generally seems to be more associated with heavy, long-term alcohol consumption rather than occasional indulgence. Additionally, alcohol and cigarettes are about the same in terms of their prevalence as causes of mouth cancer, so alcohol is generally considered a significant risk factor for people to consider.

Doctors are often able to treat mouth cancer successfully, especially if they find out about it early enough. The main treatment method is to simply cut out the tumor, which is common for most kinds of cancer. The mouth generally is easier to access than internal organs, so this surgery is often less complicated than some other kinds of cancer surgery, although in severe cases, the patient might have to lose a great deal of facial tissue.



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