Oral Cancer starts off in the cells of the mouth (oral cavity). The oral cavity is made up of many parts:
- Inside of the lips and cheeks
- Hard palate (roof of the mouth)
- Floor of the mouth (under the tongue)
- Gums and teeth
Most people diagnosed with Oral Cancer are over the age of 40. There is no single cause of Oral Cancer, but some factors increase the risk of developing it:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco or using snuff, especially if you also drink alcohol
- Drinking alcohol, especially if you also smoke or chew tobacco or use snuff
- Chewing betel nut
- Sun exposure to the lips
- Infection of the oral cavity with the human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Family history of squamous cell carcinoma
- History of oral cancer
- Weakened immune system
Some people develop oral cancer without any of these risks.
As of June 2017, there have been an estimated 4,700 new cases of Oral Cancer and an estimated 1,250 Oral Cancer deaths in Canada (Canadian Cancer Statistics, 2017).
As of June 2018, 53% of oral cancers were diagnosed in stage IV (Canadian Cancer Statistics, 2018).