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Different Types of Oral Cancer and Contributing Factors

Posted in Dental Care, and General Dentistry

Oral Cancer (Five Types)

Oral cancer refers to a group of malignancies that can develop in various parts of the oral cavity, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat. It is essential to be aware of the different types of oral cancer and the factors that contribute to their development. Early detection and understanding the risk factors can significantly increase the chances of successful treatment. During routine oral exams or checkups, your dentist will look for abnormalities including signs of oral cancer. This is yet another good reason to visit your dentist regularly. However, let’s first look at the various types of oral cancer and the known contributing factors.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of oral cancer, accounting for approximately 90% of all cases. It usually originates in the thin, flat cells lining the oral cavity. SCC can occur on the lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, and roof or floor of the mouth. The primary contributing factors for SCC include tobacco and alcohol use, prolonged exposure to sunlight (lip cancer), human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, poor oral hygiene, and a weakened immune system.

Verrucous Carcinoma

Verrucous carcinoma is a subtype of SCC but generally less aggressive. It often presents as a slow-growing, cauliflower-like mass that rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Verrucous carcinoma is primarily associated with long-term tobacco use, betel nut chewing, and poor oral hygiene.

Minor Salivary Gland Carcinoma

Minor salivary gland carcinoma refers to cancers that originate in the small salivary glands located throughout the oral cavity. They can occur in various areas, such as the palate, lips, cheeks, and throat. Contributing factors for these cancers may include exposure to certain chemicals or toxins, older age, and a family history of salivary gland tumors.

Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma

Mucoepidermoid carcinoma is a type of cancer that develops in the salivary glands, particularly the parotid and submandibular glands. Although it is not exclusive to the oral cavity, it can involve the mouth and throat. While the exact causes are still unknown, mucoepidermoid carcinoma has been associated with radiation exposure, certain genetic abnormalities, and prior salivary gland tumors.

Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma

Adenoid cystic carcinoma is a rare and slow-growing cancer that primarily affects the salivary glands, including those within the oral cavity. Its exact causes remain uncertain, but exposure to certain occupational hazards (e.g., woodworking) and genetic factors have been suggested to play a role.

Other Contributing

Other contributing factors that are common to many types of oral cancer include a history of head and neck cancer, poor diet (lack of fruits and vegetables), chronic inflammation, immune system deficiencies, and a history of precancerous lesions.

Speak to Your Doctor

Remember, this post provides a general overview, and it is crucial to consult with healthcare professionals for a comprehensive understanding of oral cancer. Remember, regular dental check-ups, self-examinations, and awareness of potential risk factors can aid in early detection, leading to better treatment outcomes. Stay informed, prioritize oral health, and spread awareness to promote a healthier future for everyone.