Mouth cancer can develop in any part of the mouth. It can appear on: the lips, the gums, the tongue, on the inside of the cheeks, on the roof or floor of the mouth. If it occurs on the inside of the mouth it is often called oral or oral cavity cancer. Mouth cancer belongs to the cancer group called head and neck cancers. All of these cancer that belong to this category are usually treated in the same way.



The symptoms can be:

  • Sore throat
  • Soreness that doesn’t go away
  • Lump or thickening of the mouth skin or lining
  • White or reddish patch in the mouth
  • Weak teeth
  • Dentures that fit poorly
  • Pain in the tongue
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Stiffness of the jaw
  • Difficult of painful swallowing
  • Feeling as something is stuck in the throat

A person should visit a doctor or a dentist if any symptom from the above listed is constant for more than two weeks. The specialist will carefully inspect the condition, as some of these symptoms may be a sign of infection also and then define the diagnosis.



Mouth cancer forms due to mutation in the DNA of the cells in the mouth or lips. The mutation makes possible for cancer cells to grow and divide when the healthy ones are dead. Thus accumulated cancer cells can form a tumor, and over time spread to the rest of the areas in the mouth, or head and neck, as well as other body parts. Usually, most of the mouth cancers begin to form in the flat and thin cells that line the lips and the inside of the mouth. These cells are called squamous cells. Most of the oral cancer cases are squamous carcinomas. It is not known what causes the mutation of the squamous cells, but some factors that can increase the risk of a mouth cancer to develop have been identified.

As mouth cancer refers to cancers to all the parts that embody the mouth and lips, several types of mouth cancers can be distinguished:

  • Buccal mucosa cancer-cancer in the inside part of the cheeks
  • Hard palate cancer-roof of mouth cancer
  • Floor of mouth cancer
  • Gum cancer
  • Lip cancer
  • Tongue cancer
  • Salivary gland cancer


Risk factors

The following factors increase the risk of mouth cancer:

  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Any kind of tobacco
  • Extensive sun exposure to the lips
  • HPV (sexually transmitted virus called human papillomavirus)



The treatment for mouth cancer will depend on the position of the cancer, the stage it has achieved and the patient’s overall health and preferences. The patient can have only one treatment or a combination of treatments. The treatment may be:

  • Several types of surgeries:

-tumor removal surgery

-surgery to remove cancer that spread to the neck

-mouth reconstruction surgery

  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted drug therapy
  • Quit smoking or using tobacco of any kind
  • Stop drinking alcohol



Although no proven way of preventing mouth cancer to develop exists, the following advices may reduce the risk:

  • DO NOT use tobacco
  • DO NOT drink alcohol excessively; stop drinking or drink in moderation
  • Eat healthy-plenty of fruits and vegetables which vitamins and antioxidants will lower the risk
  • Avoid extensive exposure to the sun
  • Protect the lips from the sun
  • Visit the dentist regularly