Oral cancer is cancer that develops in the tissues of the mouth or throat. It belongs to a larger group of cancers called head and neck cancers. Most develop in the squamous cells found in your mouth, tongue, and lips.
Types of oral cancers
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
- Chronic facial sun exposure
- A previous diagnosis of oral cancer
- A family history of oral or other types of cancer
- A weakened immune system
- Poor nutrition
- Genetic syndromes
- Being male
- A sore on your lip or mouth that won’t heal
- A mass or growth anywhere in your mouth
- Bleeding from your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Trouble wearing dentures
- A lump in your neck
- An earache that won’t go away
- Dramatic weight loss
- Lower lip, face, neck, or chin numbness
- White, red and white, or red patches in or on your mouth or lips
- A sore throat
- Jaw pain or stiffness
- Tongue pain
- X-rays to see if cancer cells have spread to the jaw, chest, or lungs
- A CT scan to reveal any tumors in your mouth, throat, neck, lungs, or elsewhere in your body
- A PET scan to determine if the cancer has traveled to lymph nodes or other organs
- A MRI scan to show a more accurate image of the head and neck, and determine the extent or stage of the cancer
- An endoscopy to examine the nasal passages, sinuses, inner throat, windpipe, and trachea
There are four stages of oral cancer.
- Stage 1: The tumor is 2 centimeters (cm) or smaller, and the cancer hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes.
- Stage 2: The tumor is between 2-4 cm, and cancer cells haven’t spread to the lymph nodes.
- Stage 3: The tumor is either larger than 4 cm and hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes, or is any size and has spread to one lymph node, but not to other parts of the body.
- Stage 4: Tumors are any size and the cancer cells have spread to nearby tissues, the lymph nodes, or other parts of the body.
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Journal of Molecular Oncology Research