Oral, head and neck cancers claim approximately 12,000 lives per year. If diagnosed early, these cancers can be more easily treated without significant complications, and the chances of survival greatly increase.
Tobacco and alcohol users traditionally have been considered the populations at greatest risk for these cancers. However, oral cancer cases are on the rise in younger adults who do not smoke, and recent research indicates this development is due partly to the increase of the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus, a cancer-causing infection that can be transmitted orally. HPV-related oral cancers are more difficult to detect because these cancers usually occur on the back of the tongue or on the tonsils, providing even more reason to get screened regularly.
The signs and symptoms of oral cancer often go unnoticed. However, there are a few visible signs associated with these cancers that require immediate attention, including:
A sore in your mouth that doesn't heal or that increases in size
Persistent pain in your mouth
Lumps or white or red patches inside your mouth
Difficulty chewing or swallowing or moving your tongue
Soreness in your throat or feeling that something is caught in your throat
Changes in your voice
A lump in your neck
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