Oral Cancers



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

  • Lips
  • Tongue
  • Inner lining of the cheek
  • Gums
  • Floor of the mouth
  • Hard and soft palate

Risk factors

  • 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.


  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Nutrition
  • Keeping your mouth healthy



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