Oral cancer: what is it and what causes it?

By: Dental Holistix

There are many different types of oral cancer; however, 90% of cases that occur in the oral cavity are squamous cell carcinomas. Oral cancers develop in the tissues of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums and the inside of the cheeks. Cancers can also occur in the floor of the mouth, the soft and hard palate, and the sinuses. They are caused by the abnormal growth of cells in these areas, which can form tumors and spread to other parts of the body. Most oral cancers are related to numerous risk factors.

Risk factors

  • Tobacco use, both smoking and chewing tobacco.
  • Heavy alcohol consumption, especially when combined with tobacco use.
  • Exposure to UV radiation.
  • HPV (human papillomavirus) infection. This is a sexually transmitted virus that can be linked to oral cancer.
  • Poor diet, especially one that is low in fruit and vegetables.
  • Family history of oral cancer.
  • Age. Oral cancer is more common in older adults, especially those over the age of 50.

Signs & symptoms to look out for

  • Sores or lumps in the mouth, tongue or throat that do not heal within 1-2 weeks.
  • White or red patches in the mouth.
  • Persistent pain or difficulty swallowing.
  • Numbness or feeling of something stuck in the throat.
  • Persistent hoarseness or changes in the voice.
  • Unusual bleeding or pain in the mouth.
  • Swelling of the jaw or lymph nodes in the neck.
  • Loose teeth or dentures that no longer fit well.

Of course, these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions or issues; however, if you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to give our dentists a visit for an examination. Early detection and treatment are key in the management of oral cancer.


Our dentists are experts in mouth health and can screen you for oral cancers and other oral health related issues. Just give the clinic a call on 07-858 0750 and book in for an examination. 

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