Causes of mouth cancer
Who is more likely to get mouth cancer
It's not always clear what causes mouth cancer.
You may be more likely to get mouth cancer if:
- you smoke or chew tobacco, betel nut or paan
- you drink a lot of alcohol
- you have leukoplakia
- you’ve been exposed to a lot of sunlight or sunbeds, which can cause skin cancer affecting the lips
- you've had cancer before
- you have a weakened immune system, for example, you have HIV or AIDS, or take immunosuppressant medicine
Mouth cancer has also been linked to having changes in your genes and having some types of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in your mouth.
How to lower your risk of mouth cancer
You cannot always prevent mouth cancer, but there are things you can do to lower your chance of getting it.
eat a healthy diet, including 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
try to cut down on alcohol and avoid drinking more than 14 units a week
try to quit smoking
try to quit chewing tobacco, betel nut or paan
It's important to get any symptoms of mouth cancer checked by a doctor or dentist.
Page last reviewed: 19 June 2023
Next review due: 19 June 2026