Oral cancer forms in the tissues of the mouth or the back of the throat.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork explains that smoking can damage DNA, and that’s why people who smoke are at a higher risk of cancer. Other high-risk behaviors for oral cancer include chewing smokeless tobacco and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Some strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, also are linked to some types of oral cancer. The American Cancer Society states that 39 percent of cases of oral cancers are linked to HPV. The studies prove that oral sex is not a risk-free practice, as HPV is passed through oral and genital contact. Your risk is increased if you’ve had more than six sexual partners in your lifetime.
Signs of oral cancer:
- Bleeding in mouth
- Sores that don't heal in two weeks
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Difficulty moving jaw or tongue
- Ear pain
It's important to detect the signs of oral cancer early, so the damaged cells can be removed before they spread. The five-year survival rate for oral cancer is about 50 percent.