Mouth Cancer: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Temps de lecture : 2 min

Mouth cancer or oral cancer can be defined as the abnormal growth and spread of cells in the mouth. These “mutations” can cause damage to surrounding tissues. In 2009, Health Canada estimated that there would be 3,400 new cases of oral cancer in Canada. Read on to discover the causes, symptoms and treatment of oral cancer.

Mouth cancer: causes

Mouth cancer refers to cancer that develops on the lips, gums, tongue, inner lining of the cheeks, and the roof and floor of the mouth. Also, mouth cancer occurs when the DNA of cells in your mouth mutates. As such, these mutations allow cancer cells to grow and divide, while killing healthy cells. Eventually, these cells can turn into tumours. While it is unclear what causes mouth cancer, doctors agree that certain factors increase your risk of contracting mouth cancer.

Mouth Cancer: Risk Factors

Did you know that men are twice as likely to develop mouth cancer than women? Furthermore, men who are over 50 years of age face the greatest risk. However, there are other lifestyle choices you that increase your risk of mouth cancer. These include:

    • Smoking: smokeless tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, chewing betel quid, paan, areca nut and, of course, cigarettes.
    • Excessive alcohol consumption
    • HPV: according to recent studies, Human Papillomavirus infection, especially HPV-16, has been linked to oral cancer.
    • A diet low in fruits and vegetables
    • Exposure to the sun: high sun exposure can cause lip cancer.

Mouth Cancer: Signs And Symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms of mouth cancer include:

  • Sores in the mouth that have not healed within two weeks
  • Bleeding in the mouth
  • Dark red or white patches in the mouth
  • Lumps on the neck, tongue or lips
  • Chronic sore throat
  • A change in how your dentures fit together
  • Dramatic weight loss


There are steps you can take to improve your health and reduce your risk of developing mouth cancer. For example, quitting smoking, reducing your alcohol intake, and practising safe sex will help reduce your risk. Furthermore, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and flossing and brushing your teeth daily are also key in preventing oral cancer. Additionally, if you spend a lot of time outdoors, make sure you apply lip balm with UV protection to your lips.


Just like with most cancers, early detection is key. If you notice any symptoms, consult your dental or health care professional as quickly as possible. You should also see your dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups. If caught early, mouth cancer can be treated. However, if you wait too long it can spread to other areas, making it harder to treat.

Oral cancer is treated like other cancers. Typically, the cancerous growth will be surgically removed. This is usually followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

According to Health Canada, mouth cancer is the 13th most common cancer out of 23 reported cancers. Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of mouth cancer. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are important as they can help detect any abnormal growths early on. Contact the Clinique dentaire Fortin Poirier to make an appointment today.  

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