Oral cancer is due to DNA mutation. That is, the cancer occurs when cells begin to proliferate abnormally following an oncogenic activation in one or a group of cells. Common factors that can cause this cellular mutation are tobacco, ultraviolet light (sunshine), nuclear radiation and certain toxic chemicals. Some oral cancers can take several years after contact with the carcinogen to develop.
However, whatever the time of its development, an oral cancer is always manifested by cancerous growth in the tissues of the mouth. The cancer may grow directly into the oral cavity or through metastasis from another tissue/organ affected by the cancer. In some cases, cancer can be an extension of a tumor located in a region near the mouth, cancer of the nasal cavity or sinuses for example.
Although all the causative factors of oral cancer are not known, the main causes are clearly identified – smoking and heavy alcohol consumption. In fact, over 75 percent of cancers of the oral cavity are diagnosed in people who drink and smoke. When these two substances are combined with other carcinogens (present in foods, liquids, steam, dust, etc.) the risk is even higher.