Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth.
Cancer – mouth; Mouth cancer; Head and neck cancer; Squamous cell cancer – mouth
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Oral cancer most commonly involves the lips or the tongue. It may also occur on the:
- Cheek lining
- Floor of the mouth
- Gums (gingiva)
- Roof of the mouth (palate)
Most oral cancers are a type called squamous cell
Smoking and other tobacco use are linked to most cases of oral cancer. Heavy
Other factors that may increase the risk for oral cancer include:
- Chronic irritation (such as from rough teeth, dentures, or fillings)
- Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection
- Taking medications that weaken the immune system (immunosuppressants)
- Poor dental and
Some oral cancers begin as a white plaque (
Men get oral cancer twice as often as women do, particularly men older than 40.
Sore, lump, or ulcer in the mouth:
- May be a deep, hard-edged crack in the tissue
- Most often pale colored, but may be dark or discolored
- On the tongue, lip, or other area of the mouth
- Usually painless at first (may develop a burning sensation or pain when the tumor is advanced)
Other symptoms that may occur with oral cancer include:
- Chewing problems
- Pain with swallowing
- Speech difficulties
- Swallowing difficulty
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Weight loss
Signs and tests
Your doctor or dentist will examine your mouth area. The exam may show:
- A sore on the lip, tongue, or other area of the mouth
- An ulcer or bleeding
Tests used to confirm oral cancer include:
Gum biopsy Tongue biopsy
X-rays and CT scans may be done to determine if the cancer has spread.
Surgery to remove the tumor is usually recommended if the tumor is small enough. Surgery may be used together with
Other treatments may include speech therapy or other therapy to improve movement, chewing, swallowing, and speech.
You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group of people who share common experiences and problems. See
Approximately half of people with oral cancer will live more than 5 years after they are diagnosed and treated. If the cancer is found early, before it has spread to other tissues, the cure rate is nearly 90%. However, more than half of oral cancers have already spread when the cancer is detected. Most have spread to the throat or neck.
About 1 in 4 persons with oral cancer die because of delayed diagnosis and treatment.
- Complications of radiation therapy, including dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
- Disfigurement of the face, head, and neck after surgery
- Other spread (
metastasis) of the cancer
Calling your health care provider
Oral cancer may be discovered when the dentist performs a routine cleaning and examination.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have a sore in your mouth or lip or a lump in the neck that does not go away within 1 month. Early diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer greatly increases the chances of survival.
- Avoid smoking or other tobacco use
- Have dental problems corrected
- Limit or avoid alcohol use
Practice good oral hygiene
Related:Dry mouth, Mouth and neck radiation – discharge, Swallowing problems , Cancer, Alcohol use and safe drinking, Dental care – adult, Leukoplakia, Mouth ulcers, Metastasis