What You Need to Know about Gum Cancer
Cancer that affects the inside of the mouth is called oral cancer or oral cavity cancer.
Mouth cancer can affect the following parts:
- Internal cheek lining
- The base of the mouth (under the tongue)
Gum cancer is the kind of cancer that develops in the gums.
Gum cancer is one of the many types of cancer that corresponds to the category called "head and neck cancers." Oral cancer and other types of head and neck cancer are usually treated similarly.
Gum Cancer Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of gum cancer may include the following:
- A sore on the lips or mouth that does not heal
- A white or reddish patch on the inside of the mouth
- Loose teeth
- A growth or bump inside the mouth
- Mouth pain
- Difficulty or pain when swallowing
When to see your Simi Valley Dentist
Ask for a consultation with your Simi Valley dentist if you have persistent signs and symptoms that concern you and last more than two weeks. Your Simi Valley dentist will first investigate other more frequent causes of your signs and symptoms, like an infection, for example.
What causes Gum Cancer
Oral cancer occurs when gum cells develop changes or mutations in your DNA. The DNA of a cell contains instructions that tell the cell what functions it should perform. Changes in mutations tell cells to continue growing and dividing, making healthy cells die. Abnormal buildup of cancer cells in our mouth can form a tumor. Over time, cancer cells can spread within the gums, mouth, and to other areas of the head and neck, including other areas of the body.
Gum cancer usually begins with thin, flat cells (squamous cells) that line the lips and the inside of the mouth. It is not exactly known what causes the mutations in the squamous cells that cause mouth cancer. However, doctors have identified some factors that could increase the risk of gum cancer and oral cancer in general.
Factors that may increase the risk of developing gum cancer include:
- The consumption of any type of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff, among others.
- Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- Excessive exposure to the sun on your lips.
- A sexually transmitted virus called human papillomavirus (HPV).
- A weakened immune system.
There is no proven way to prevent mouth cancer. However, you can follow these tips to reduce the risk of mouth cancer:
- Stop smoking tobacco: If you smoke, stop doing it. If you don't smoke, don't start. Consuming tobacco, whether you smoke it or chew it, exposes the mouth cells to dangerous carcinogenic chemicals.
- If you drink alcohol, keep it in moderation. Excessive and frequent alcohol consumption can irritate mouth cells and make them vulnerable to mouth cancer. If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation. For healthy adults, this means up to one drink per day for women of all ages and for men over 65, and up to two drinks per day for men under 65.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure on the lips. Stay in the shade whenever possible to protect the skin of the lips from the sun. Wear a hat with a wide brim that protects your entire face, including your mouth. Also, include the use of sunscreen for lips as part of your sun protection routine.
- Visit your Simi Valley dentist regularly. As part of your routine dental exam, ask your dentist to examine your entire mouth for any abnormality that may indicate precancerous and carcinogenic changes in the mouth.
Learn more about gum cancer, its prevention, and treatment by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Muradian. Call (805) 522-0880. The whole team will be happy to assist you.
Location: 3695 Alamo Street, #300 Simi Valley CA 93063
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