How do other illnesses affect oral cancer?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Most illnesses do not affect oral cancer, but some diseases can put you at risk for it and the treatments can put you at risk for other conditions. Infectious diseases, such as syphilis and human papillomavirus (HPV) can put you at risk for oral cancer. As oral cancer occurs in a small area (your mouth) with a lot of important stuff in it, there are many unpleasant side effects associated with treatment. For example, you may experience difficulty swallowing or eating, trouble speaking, or psychological problems in managing any disfiguring changes to your face because of surgery.

While other illnesses can affect oral cancer, infection with the human papillomavirus, which is spread through oral sexual contact, has been shown to significantly increase your risk of oral cancer. The HPV 16 type of this virus has specifically been tied to a subset of these cancers. Other factors that may contribute to oral cancer include tobacco and alcohol use, age, sun exposure, and diet.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.