Oral cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth, but the tongue appears to be the most common location. Other oral structures could include the lips, gums and other soft palate tissues in the mouth.
In general, early signs of oral cancer usually occur in the form of lumps, patchy areas and lesions, or breaks, in the tissues of the mouth. In many cases, these abnormalities are not painful in the early stages, making even self-diagnosis difficult.
Here are some additional warning signs:
- Hoarseness or difficulty swallowing.
- Unusual bleeding or persistent sores in the mouth that won’t heal.
- Lumps or growths in other nearby areas, such as the throat or neck.
- If a tumor is found, surgery will generally be required to remove it. Some facial disfigurement could also result.
Prevention is the key to staving off oral cancer. One of the biggest culprits is tobacco and alcohol use. Certain kinds of foods and even overexposure to the sun have also been linked to oral cancer. Some experts believe certain oral cancer risk factors are also hereditary.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the best defenses against oral cancer. Maintaining good oral hygiene, and regular dental checkups, with oral cancer screening, is highly recommended.