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Oral Cancer Treatment & Diagnosis London

About 10 percent of tumours in the UK are oral cancers. Oral cancers are much more common in other countries, however, especially India where they make up 40 percent of all cancers. About 480,000 cases are diagnosed annually worldwide. Almost all oral cancers occur in squamous cells, which line the mouth and oropharynx. These are called squamous cell carcinomas.

Mouth cancer occurs most commonly in the tongue and the floor of the mouth and unfortunatly more than half of patients are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, the chance of successful treatment of mouth and oropharynx cancers is increased dramatically if the cancer is detected early.

Although the exact causes of oral cancers are unknown, alcohol and tobacco use are major risk factors. More recently, the human papilloma virus has been found to cause cancers of the tonsil and the back portion of the tongue.

Tobacco and Oral Cancer

90 percent of people with mouth and oropharynx cancer use or have used tobacco in some form. The risk increases with the length of the habit and the amount of tobacco used.

Specifically, pipe smoking increases the risk for cancer of the lip and the soft palate. People who use chewing tobacco or snuff are more likely to develop cancer of the gums, cheek and lips. Living with a smoker or working in a smoking environment can cause secondhand or passive smoking, which may also increase the risk of developing the condition..

Alcohol and Oral Cancer

About 80 percent of people with oral cancers are heavy drinkers, consuming more than 21 alcoholic drinks each week. People who drink alcohol and smoke are six times as likely to get mouth and oropharynx cancer as people who do not drink. The combination of tobacco and alcohol is particularly dangerous.

Human Papilloma Virus

This is the same virus that causes cancer of the cervix in women. It can cause tumours anywhere in the oral cavity but is a particular cause of oropharyngeal tumours (at the back of the throat).
It seems from recent studies that oral cancer caused by this virus have a better prognosis than those attributable to excesss smoking and drinking.

Other risk factors of Oral Cancer:

  • Age: oral cancers are more common in people over 45
  • Drinking maté a beverage common in South America made from a type of holly tree
  • Chewing quids of betel a stimulant common in Asia
  • Immunosuppressive drugs
  • Lichen planus a disease that often affects the cells that line the mouth
  • Previous head and neck cancer
  • Poor nutrition especially a diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • Prolonged sun exposure (lip cancer)
  • Radiation exposure

Please note:
Oral cancer even in high risk groups is fairly rare. If you are worried about a spot or ulcer that you think may be cancerous usually a trip to your doctor or dentist will reassure you that nothing is amiss.