Oncology (General Cancer)/Oral cancer

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Question
Hi, I was wondering how people get oral  cancer? Who is at risk? What are some signs and symptoms? Thanks

Answer
Oral cancers generally come from exposure to carcinogens.  Tobacco users are at higher risk.  Betel nut chewers in India get it. Of interest is the fact that alcohol may or may not put people at risk (very small effect if any)  but people who smoke and drink a fair amount have 15 times the risk of people who smoke.  Tobacco chewers are at risk.  The human papilloma virus which can be transmitted by sexual contact can also cause oral cancers, so in some gay populations this kind of cancer is seen.  
Signs and symptoms include sores that won't go away, bleeding, and local discolorations (early sign).  While oral cancers can often be cured if gotten to soon enough, treatment with surgery and/or radiation and chemotherapy can leave people with a lot of discomfort and disfiguration.  
There are some oral cancers (relatively rare) which are not obviously related to carcinogens.  These include adenoid cystic carcinomas, which are pretty devastating and even when completely removed surgically, usually recur.  Hope this helps.  

Oncology (General Cancer)

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Donald Higby, M.D.

Expertise

I can answer almost all questions related to the treatment and natural course of most kinds of cancer, especially cancers of prostate, colon, lung and breast.

Experience

I have been a practicing medical oncologist for 36 years, and have been chief of service at a major medical center for 25 years. I've also done research in cancer treatments.

Organizations
American Society of Clinical Oncology

Publications
New England Journal of Medicine American Journal of Medicine Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Hematology Transfusion Medicine

Education/Credentials
MD, Stanford University Internal Medicine residency, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO Medical Oncology Fellowship, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

Awards and Honors
America's Best Physicians, last 14 years

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