Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for oral and several types of cancers. In fact, mouth cancer from chewing tobacco is one of the most treatable of all types of cancer. However, it is also one of the deadliest when it is not identified early. That is why it is essential to take care of your oral health each day. Keep reading to know more about oral cancer, including the different types of tobacco use, the treatment, and more.
What is Oral Cancer?
Cancer is the uncontrollable development of cells that attack and cause damage to the surrounding tissue. Oral cancer comes out like a sore or growth that does not disappear. It incorporates cancers of the lips, cheek, tongue, hard and soft palate, floor of the mouth, sinuses, and throat. Indeed, oral cancers can be life-threatening if not detected and addressed early.
Risk For Oral Cancer
The American Cancer Society stated that men face a higher risk of developing mouth cancer than women. In fact, men who are above 50 years old face the most serious risk.
Risk factors for developing oral cancer include:
- Family history of cancer.
- Excessive exposure to the sun, particularly at a young age.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Cigar, cigarette, or pipe smoking. Smokers are multiple times more likely than non-smokers to have oral cancers.
- Use of smokeless tobacco products. These products increase the risk of developing cancers of the gums, cheeks, and lips lining.
Types of Smokeless Tobacco
There are various types of smokeless tobacco products. These include:
Oral, Spit, or Chewing Tobacco
This type of smokeless tobacco comes as plugs, loose leaves, or twists of dried tobacco that might be flavored. People who use this tobacco chew or place it between the cheek and teeth or gums. In any case, smokeless tobacco contains nicotine that can be absorbed through the oral cavity tissues. Some users spit out or swallow the tobacco ‘juices.’
Dip or Snuff Tobacco
Snuff contains tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAS), and it is finely ground tobacco bundled in jars or pockets. People sold this as dry or moist and may have seasonings added.
Users use moist snuff by placing it between the lower cheek or lip and gum. They can absorb the nicotine in the snuff through the tissues of the oral cavity. Also, moist snuffs come in tiny, teabag-like pockets that can be put between the cheek and gum. They can be both smoke-free and spit-free, and they commonly advertise as a discreet method to use tobacco. On the other hand, merchants sell dry snuff in powder and can use it by inhaling or sniffing the powder up the nose.
Snus is a kind of moist snuff. You can see this in small pouches, and users hold them between the gum and mouth tissues. Similar to spit-free snuff, the juices are swallowed.
Dissolvable types of smokeless tobacco come in various shapes and sizes, like tobacco orbs, tablets, pellets, thin strips, and toothpick-sized sticks. A portion of these likewise contain sweeteners or flavoring and look a ton like treats. However, all of them have tobacco and nicotine elements. Depending on the form, users chew or suck them in the mouth until they dissolve. Additionally, users swallow the juices as well.
Heated Tobacco Products
Also called heat-not-burn products, heated tobacco products frequently use an electronic heating component. This heats uniquely designed plugs, sticks, or capsules containing tobacco.
The heat discharges nicotine and other chemicals that would then be breathed into the lungs. However, the tobacco does not get sufficiently hot to burn. Additionally, these devices are not equivalent to e-cigarettes.
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
All smokeless tobacco products have cancer-causing agents that can increase the risk of developing oral cancer. In any case, common oral cancer symptoms include:
- Swellings, bumps or lumps, rough areas, crusts or eroded spots on the lips, gums, or other parts inside the mouth
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- The development of smooth red, white, or dotted patches in the mouth
- Unexplained numbness, loss of sensation, pain, or tenderness in any part of the mouth, face, head, and neck
- Ear pain
- Constant sores on the face, head, neck, or mouth that bleed quickly and do not mend within two weeks
- A soreness or sensation that something is trapped toward the back of the throat
- Dramatic weight loss
- Chronic sore throat, hoarseness, or changes in the voice
- Trouble swallowing or chewing, speaking, or moving the tongue or jaw.
- A change in how your teeth or dentures fit together
If you see any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist immediately for a professional assessment.
If you are at a high risk of cancer, diagnosing it as early as possible is crucial. This is because early detection can help the treatment to work effectively.
Most doctors can treat oral cancer similar to many other cancers. They remove the cancerous growth followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy to destroy any leftover cancer cells.
There is no definite method to prevent mouth cancer. However, you can reduce your oral cancer risk. These include:
Stop using tobacco products. Generally, you need to stop if you smoke or use tobacco products. Using any tobacco products exposes the cells in your mouth to dangerous cancer-causing agents.
Moderate alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol use can bother the cells in your mouth, making them powerless against mouth cancer. If you decide to drink liquor, do as such with some restraint. For healthy grownups, that implies at least one drink a day for females of all ages. While younger men and men older than age 65 can drink up to two beverages a day for men age 65 and younger.
Avoid extreme sun exposure to your lips. Secure your lips from the sun by wearing a broad-brimmed hat or applying sunscreen lip products. In short, keep your lips in the shade whenever possible.
Visit your dentist regularly. Lastly, it is essential to make a regular appointment with your dentist. Your dentist can inspect your entire mouth for strange areas that may demonstrate mouth cancer or precancerous changes.
Smokeless Tobacco: Products and Marketing.
TSNAs in Cigarettes and Cigarette Smoke: What Are They?
What causes red spots on the roof of the mouth?
How to Quit Smoking and Using Tobacco Products.