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Who is at risk ?

Men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer as women, and men who are over age 50 face the greatest risk.

Risk factors for the development of oral cancer include:

It is important to note that over 25% of all oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke and who only drink alcohol occasionally.

Oral cancer is not caused by one thing, but certain factors increase its risk. Factors include smoking, chewing tobacco or using snuff, drinking excessive alcohol, and chewing betel nut, gutka or khaini – all these increase the risk of developing oral cancer. This risk of oral cancer is even higher when people have more than one or more of these unhealthy habits. People who both smoke and drink heavily are estimated to be 35 times as likely to develop oral cancer as people who never smoke or drink.

Infections of the mouth with the human papillomavirus (HPV) may also increase the risk of oral cancer. For some, oral cancer develops without any of these risks. People that have had head and neck cancer in the past may also have an increased risk of oral cancer.