Oral cancer: cause, symptoms, and treatment.

Early detection is key! Watch out for persistent oral cancer mouth sores, unexplained pain, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, or changes in the appearance of lips, gums, or tongue.

What Parts Of My Body Are In My Oral Cavity?

The oral cavity, also known as the mouth, is the hollow space located at the beginning of the digestive system and serves as the entrance to the respiratory system. Several parts of your body are found within the oral cavity. Here are some of the main structures:

  • Tongue: A muscular organ that helps with tasting, chewing, swallowing, and speaking. Taste buds are located on the surface of the tongue, allowing you to perceive different tastes.
  • Teeth: These are hard structures used for cutting, tearing, and grinding food during the process of mastication (chewing). There are different types of teeth, including incisors, canines, premolars, and molars, each with specific functions.
  • Palate: The roof of the mouth, which consists of two parts: the hard palate (in the front) and the soft palate (at the back). The palate plays a role in speech and separates the oral cavity from the nasal cavity.
  • Uvula: A small, fleshy, cone-shaped projection hanging down from the soft palate. It helps prevent food and liquids from entering the nasal cavity during swallowing.
  • Salivary Glands: There are three major pairs of salivary glands that produce saliva. Saliva helps moisten food for easier swallowing and contains enzymes that begin the process of digestion.
  • Gingiva (Gums): The soft tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth, providing protection and helping to anchor the teeth in place.
  • Buccal Mucosa: The inner lining of the cheeks, which is a moist and sensitive area of the oral cavity.
  • Frenulum: A fold of tissue located beneath the tongue and connecting it to the floor of the mouth.
  • Fauces: The opening at the back of the mouth where the oral cavity leads into the throat (pharynx).

It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene to keep these structures healthy and functioning properly. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups can help prevent oral health issues.


Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer, can be caused by a combination of various factors. The primary cause of oral cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the oral cavity. Several risk factors contribute to the development of oral cancer, and they include:

  1. Tobacco use: Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, as well as using smokeless tobacco products (such as snuff or chewing tobacco), significantly increases the risk of developing oral cancer. Tobacco contains carcinogens that can damage the cells in the mouth, leading to cancer.
  2. Alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption is another significant risk factor for oral cancer. When combined with tobacco use, the risk is even higher. Alcohol can irritate the cells in the mouth, making them more susceptible to cancerous changes.
  3. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection: Certain strains of HPV, particularly HPV16, and HPV18, have been linked to the development of oral cancer. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, and oral sex with an infected partner can increase the risk of acquiring these high-risk HPV strains.
  4. Sun exposure: Prolonged and unprotected exposure to sunlight can increase the risk of lip cancer, especially for individuals with fair skin.
  5. Poor oral hygiene: Neglecting oral health and not practicing regular dental care can lead to chronic irritation and inflammation of the oral tissues, potentially increasing the risk of oral cancer.
  6. Diet: A diet low in fruits and vegetables and high in processed foods may contribute to an increased risk of oral cancer.
  7. Age and gender: Oral cancer is more common in older individuals, and men are at a higher risk than women.
  8. Family history: Having a family history of oral cancer or other head and neck cancers may increase the risk of developing the disease.

It is important to note that while these factors can increase the risk of oral cancer, not everyone with these risk factors will develop the disease. Regular dental check-ups and early detection can play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating oral cancer in its early stages, which can improve the chances of successful treatment and recovery. If you have concerns about your oral health or any risk factors, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional or dentist for guidance and appropriate screenshothttps://www.mayoclinic.org/


Oral cancer refers to cancer that develops in the tissues of the mouth or throat. The symptoms of oral cancer can vary depending on the specific location and stage of the cancer. It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so a proper evaluation by a healthcare professional is essential for an accurate diagnosis. Some common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  1. Persistent sore or ulcer: A sore or ulcer in the mouth that doesn’t heal within two weeks.
  2. Red or white patches: Red or white patches on the gums, tongue, tonsils, or lining of the mouth.
  3. Swelling or lumps: Unexplained lumps or thickening of the skin or tissues in the mouth, neck, or throat.
  4. Difficulty swallowing: Trouble or pain while swallowing or a feeling of something being stuck in the throat.
  5. Persistent throat pain or hoarseness: Persistent pain in the throat or persistent hoarseness in the voice.
  6. Changes in oral function: Persistent changes in the way dentures fit or difficulty moving the tongue or jaw.
  7. Numbness or pain: Numbness in the mouth, face, or neck or pain in the ear without any apparent cause.
  8. Bleeding: Unexplained bleeding in the mouth, throat, or gums.
  9. Weight loss: Unexplained weight loss.

It’s important to remember that the above symptoms can also be caused by non-cancerous conditions, but if any of these signs persist for more than two weeks or if you have concerns about oral health, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly for a proper evaluation and diagnosis. Early detection is essential for improving the outcomes of oral cancer treatment.


  • Surgery: Surgery is often the primary treatment for early-stage oral cancer. It involves removing the cancerous tumor and surrounding tissues. In some cases, reconstructive surgery may be necessary to restore the appearance and function of the mouth and jaw.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells or stop their growth. It can be administered orally or intravenously. Chemotherapy is often used in advanced stages of oral cancer or when cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
  • Targeted therapy: Targeted therapies are medications that specifically target certain molecules involved in cancer cell growth and survival. They may be used in combination with other treatments for advanced or recurrent oral cancer.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy aims to boost the body’s immune system to help fight cancer cells. It can be used in certain cases of oral cancer, particularly in cases where other treatments have not been effective.
  • Palliative care: In advanced stages of oral cancer or cases where a cure is not possible, palliative care focuses on improving the patient’s quality of life by managing symptoms and providing support.

Treatment plans will depend on factors such as the stage of the cancer, the location of the tumor, the patient’s overall health, and their preferences. Early detection and treatment can significantly improve the prognosis, so it’s essential to have regular dental check-ups and report any unusual symptoms to a healthcare professional promptly.

Remember, only a qualified medical professional can determine the most appropriate treatment for an individual case of oral cancer. If you or someone you know is facing a possible oral cancer diagnosis, it’s crucial to seek the advice and guidance of a healthcare professional with expertise in oncology or oral and maxillofacial surgery.


The treatment of oral cancer typically involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, depending on the stage and extent of the cancer. Surgery is often the primary treatment for localized oral cancer. The specific surgical procedure used will depend on the location and size of the tumor, as well as the extent of the disease. Some of the common surgical treatments for oral cancer include Cancer: Symptoms, Treatment, Overview, Causes, And Types.

  1. Tumor Resection: This involves the surgical removal of the tumor along with a margin of healthy tissue surrounding it to ensure the complete removal of cancer cells.
  2. Glossectomy: In cases where the tumor is located on the tongue, a partial or total glossectomy may be performed to remove a portion or the entire tongue, respectively.
  3. Mandibulectomy or Maxillectomy: These procedures involve the partial or total removal of the jawbone (mandible or maxilla) if cancer has spread to these areas.
  4. Laryngectomy: If the cancer has spread to the larynx (voice box), a laryngectomy may be necessary, which involves the removal of the voice box.
  5. Neck Dissection: This procedure involves removing lymph nodes from the neck to check for the spread of cancer cells.
  6. Reconstructive Surgery: After the removal of the tumor, reconstructive surgery may be performed to restore the appearance and function of the mouth and jaw.

It’s important to note that each case of oral cancer is unique, and the treatment plan will be tailored to the individual’s specific condition and needs. The best treatment approach is determined by a multidisciplinary team of doctors, including surgeons, oncologists, and radiation specialists, who will consider factors like the stage of cancer, the patient’s overall health, and the potential side effects of the treatments. Early detection and timely treatment significantly improve the chances of successful outcomes for oral cancer patients.

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