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Tobacco Mouth Cancer - Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Published on May 11, 2022   -  5 min read


Mouth cancers are a common type of cancer of the head and neck region. Most of the cancers caused in the mouth are seen in people with tobacco habits in any form.



Oral cancer or mouth cancer is a common type of cancer that affects the oral cavity and its content. In most cases of oral cancer, the affected individuals have tobacco habits in different forms, such as tobacco chewing, snuff, cigarette smoking, and are known to use pipe cigars. Oral cancers are commonly seen in people above 60 years of age. However, it can also occur in people below 60 years.

What Is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancers are cancers of the mouth. It is a common type of head and neck cancer that affects the inner cheeks, outer part of the tongue (tip of the tongue), the floor of the mouth, the roof of the mouth (palatal region), and the oropharynx region (posterior part of the tongue), and lips. Oral cancer can typically affect any area of your mouth. It can look like a typical oral cavity lesion that is painful and can bleed. The difference between a typical harmless non-cancerous oral lesion and oral cancer is that the cancerous lesions do not usually go away. They spread to the mouth, head and neck, and other body regions. Approximately 65 % of the people with oral cancers are known to be alive for five years from diagnosis.

Oral cancers are a common type of head and neck cancer. A major known cause of oral cancers is tobacco. Tobacco habits can be in any form, such as cigarette smoking, cigar, pipe tobacco, tobacco chewing habits, and snuff. Tobacco products have the following,

How Are Cigarettes Linked With Cancers?

Cigarette smoking is the most common way of using tobacco. It is done by smoking cigarettes by inhaling tobacco, nicotine, and other products. Cigarettes cause 12 different types of cancers, including oral cancer and lung cancer. About one in five people are known to die of cigarette smoking. The American Lung Association says that people with cigarette smoking habits make up about 90 percent of lung cancer cases. In addition, cigarettes have many cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) that can cause cancer in any region of the body.

How Are Cigars and Pipes Responsible for Causing Cancers?

Cigars and pipes attracted the youth generation in the 1990s. People thought that using cigars caused less harm to their health when compared to cigarettes as they did not inhale the tobacco. However, cigars and pipes can cause an equal risk of developing oral cavity cancers (mouth cancer).

Another non-smoking way of using tobacco products is using snuff and chewing tobacco. Here, the people keep tobacco or snuff, which could be in the form of a pouch or a small brick in between their cheek and gums. This way, nicotine is released; nicotine is an addictive agent. People using chewing tobacco or snuff expose themselves to higher risks of developing lips, cheek, or throat cancers. People who use snuff or powdered tobacco have white patches in the oral cavity, which is called leukoplakia. Leukoplakia can later turn into oral cancer.

What Are the Common Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer signs and symptoms often resemble normal harmless patches of the oral cavity. Though it appears harmless, the difference between a normal oral patch and an oral cancerous symptom is that these lesions do not usually go away as time progresses. Some of the patches could be precancerous lesions. Some of the common symptoms and signs of oral cancer are as follows,

How to Diagnose Oral Cancer?

Dentists diagnose oral cancer lesions or precancerous lesions during regular checkups or while performing other dental procedures. Later, after making the final diagnosis, your dentist or a general physician will transfer you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist. Some of the common ways to diagnose oral cancer are,

How to Treat Oral Cancers?

The treatments and management of oral cancer depend upon the type, severity, and extent of the spread of oral cancer. The primary treatments for oral cancer are oral surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

The significant surgeries that are done in the treatment of oral cancers are,

How Do I Save Myself From Getting Oral Cancer?

These are some of the common steps done to prevent the incidence of oral cancer.


Oral cancer, as said earlier, is a common type of cancer that involves the head and neck. One of the major causes of oral cancer is tobacco habit. Therefore, if you are a person with tobacco habits in any form, stop the practice slowly or reach out for help to cease the habits. Because, of course, prevention is always better than cure.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Symptoms of Tobacco-Related Mouth Cancer?

Some of the most common symptoms associated with tobacco-induced mouth cancer are as follows;

- A feeling of lump that grows inside your mouth or outer throat.

- A white or red patches on the inside of the mouth.

- A mouth or a lip sore does not heal for more than a few weeks.

- Burning mouth or pain in some areas of the mouth.

- Teeth mobility (loose teeth).

- Inability to swallow or pain and difficulty while swallowing food.

- Ear ache without any ear-related problems.


How Common Is Mouth Cancer Among Tobacco Users?

The Mouth Cancer Foundation claims that about 90 % of people with oral mouth cancers are known to have tobacco habits in any form.


How Long Does It Take for the Mouth Cancer to Progress to the Final Stage?

Mouth cancer generally takes about five years to develop into a fully progressed fourth-staged cancer. Therefore, diagnosing and treating oral cancer in the early stages is very important.


What Are the Symptoms of Gum Cancer?

A few common signs and symptoms of gum cancer are,

- Certain regions of the gums seem thicker than others.

- Painful cracks on the gums.

- White, red, or dark patches on the gums.


Does Mouth Cancer Cause Any Pain in the Early Stages?

No, mouth cancer does not usually cause any pain during the early stages.


When Should a Person Be Concerned About Mouth Sores?

A person must seek immediate medical attention if a mouth sore does not heal within two weeks or when an ulcer of the mouth spreads to the adjacent areas.

Last reviewed at:
11 May 2022  -  5 min read




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