April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.

Oral cancer is the cancer of the mouth. Mouth cancers form when cells on the lips or in the mouth develop changes (mutations) in their DNA.  With time mouth cancer cells may spread inside the mouth and on to other areas of the head and neck or other parts of the body.

Signs and symptoms of mouth cancer may include:

  • A lip or mouth sore that doesn’t heal
  • A white or reddish patch on the inside of the mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • A growth or lump inside the mouth
  • Mouth pain
  • Ear pain
  • Difficult or painful swallowing

Factors that can increase the risk of oral cancer include:

  • Tobacco use of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and snuff, etc.
  • Consumption of strong alcohol
  • Excessive sun exposure on the lips
  • A sexually transmitted virus called human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Weakened immune system