The Online Cancer Center reports that cancer of the gums is known as gingival cancer. Gum cancer is one of many types of cancers grouped in the category of head and neck cancers. According to the MayoClinic.com, risk factors for gum cancer include smoking or chewing tobacco, heavy alcohol use, or a sexually transmitted virus called HPV, or human papillomavirus. Due to the vague symptoms it exhibits, gum cancer is often not diagnosed until it is in an advanced stage. As with most cancers, the earlier gum cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome for treatment and the higher the rate of survival.
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The Online Cancer Center reports that gum pain is often the first sign of cancer of the gums. Gum pain is caused by the increase in malignant, or cancerous, cells in the gums. Unfortunately, gum pain is usually ignored until it becomes severe or mistaken as a symptom of a different disease or disorder. Persistent or recurring gum pain should be reported to a dentist or physician immediately.
Discoloration of the Gums
The MayoClinic.com identifies discoloration of the gums as a side effect of gingival cancer. Discolorations may range from a reddened to white or brown spot or area on the gum. These areas may be painless. A discoloration of any color should be examined by a dentist or a physician.
The Presence of a Sore or Lesion
According to the MayoClinic.com, the presence of a sore or lesion on the gum may indicate gingival cancer. The Online Cancer Guide adds that the sore may be on the gum itself or on nearby tissues such as the lip or cheek. A lesion may be painful or may not be painful at all. As malignant cells accumulate, a lesion or sore may begin to form a small mass on the gum or neighboring tissues. Any sore or lesion in the mouth should be examined by a dentist or physician.
The Cleveland Clinic reports that other symptoms of gum cancer may include bleeding or inflamed gums. Dentures may no longer fit properly due to swelling of the gums or growth of a mass on the gums or in the oral cavity. The MayoClinic.com adds that chewing may become painful due to sore gums. Any of these symptoms should be reported to a dentist or physician for examination.