Serious diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and eating disorders, can manifest as signs and symptoms inside of the mouth.
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Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers, with roughly 35,000 new cases reported annually in the United States. The vast majority of oral cancers occur in people older than 50 years, with men being twice as likely as women to develop the disease. The most frequent oral cancer sites are the tongue, the floor of the mouth and soft palate tissues in back of the tongue, lips and gums. If not diagnosed and treated in its early stages, oral cancer can spread, leading to chronic pain, loss of function, irreparable facial and oral disfigurement following surgery and even death. Your dentist can perform a thorough screening for oral cancer.
Scientists aren't sure of the exact cause of oral cancer. However, the carcinogens in tobacco products and alcohol, as well as excessive exposure to the sun, have been found to increase the risk of developing oral cancer.
Reviewed: January 2012
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