The two leading causes of mouth cancer in the UK are tobacco and alcohol .
Both tobacco and alcohol arecarcinogenic, which means they contain chemicals that can damage the DNA in cells and lead to Predictive genetic test for cancer risk genes .
The risk of mouth cancer increases significantly in people who smoke and drink heavily.
Some peoplealso chew tobacco or other substances that are carcinogenic.
It's not known exactly what triggers the DNA changes that lead to mouth cancer and why only a small number of people develop it.
Other risk factors for mouth cancer may include:
Smokeless tobacco products include:
Smokeless tobacco products aren't harmless and may increase your risk of developing mouth cancer, as well as other cancers, such as liver cancer , pancreatic cancer and oesophageal cancer .
Betel nuts are mildly addictive seeds from the betel palm tree. They're widely used in many southeast Asian ethnic communities, such as people of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan origin.
Betel nuts have a stimulant effect similar to coffee. They also have a carcinogenic effect, which can increase the risk of mouth cancer. This risk is increased by chewing betel nuts with tobacco, as many people in southeast Asia do.
Because ofthe tradition of using betel nuts, rates of mouth cancer are much higher in ethnic Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan communities than in the population at large.
As cancer is sometimes associated with long-standing wounds, there's a small chance that jagged, brokenteeth, which cause persistent ulcers or wounds on the tongue, can increase the chance of mouth cancer developing there.
It's therefore very important to do everything you can to keep your mouth and teeth healthy.
The lymph glands in the neck are usually the first place where mouth cancer forms secondaries.
Read about mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, including information about symptoms, types, causes, treatment, possible complications and reducing the risks.
Read about the symptoms of mouth cancer. Common symptoms are sore mouth ulcers that don't heal and unexplained, persistent lumps in the mouth or neck glands.
Read about the causes of mouth cancer. The two leading causes of mouth cancer in the UK are tobacco and alcohol.
Read about how mouth cancer is diagnosed. After a physical examination, you'll have a biopsy to remove a tissue sample for testing. You may also need further tests.
Find out how mouth cancer is treated. The type of cancer, its size and how far it's spread will be considered. Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are the three main treatments.
Read about the complications of mouth cancer and its treatment, which can include difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and speech problems. These can have an emotional impact.
Read about the day-to-day practicalities of living with mouth cancer, including work and money matters, plus information for people caring for someone with the condition.