Oral cancer can occur anywhere in the orofacial complex but is most often found on the tongue, the tonsils, and oropharynx, the gums, floor of the mouth, lips, cheek lining, or the hard palate. While the disease can affect anyone, men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women.
Those, particularly at risk for oral cancer, are men over the age of 50 who are heavy smokers and frequently drink alcohol. Additional risk factors may include UV exposure from the sun or sunlamps, GERD (gastro-intestinal reflux disease, prior head, and neck radiation treatment, exposure to certain chemicals, and poor diet.
While the death rate from oral cancer has been decreasing in the past several decades thanks to early detection and advanced methods of treatment improving the outcomes of care, there has been a recent rise in the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer due to increased transmission of sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV).