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Oral cancer can form in any part of the mouth. Most oral cancers begin in the flat cells that cover the surfaces of your mouth, tongue, and lips. Anyone can get oral cancer, but the risk is higher if you are male, use tobacco, drink lots of alcohol, have HPV, or have a history of head or neck cancer. Frequent sun exposure is also a risk factor for lip cancer.
Symptoms of oral cancer include
- White or red patches in your mouth
- A mouth sore that won't heal
- Bleeding in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Problems or pain with swallowing
- A lump in your neck
- An earache
Tests to diagnose oral cancer include a physical exam, endoscopy, biopsy, and imaging tests. Oral cancer treatments may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Some patients have a combination of treatments.
NIH: National Cancer Institute
Diagnosis and Tests
- Mouth Growths (Merck & Co., Inc.) Also in Spanish
- Oral Cancer Exam (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research) - PDF
- Oral Cancer Screening (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
- Panoramic Dental X-Ray (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
Treatments and Therapies
- Treatment Options for Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer by Stage (American Cancer Society) Also in Spanish
- Cigar Smoking and Cancer (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
- Difficulty Chewing (American Society of Clinical Oncology) Also in Spanish
- Mouth Sores and Pain (American Cancer Society) Also in Spanish
- Smokeless Tobacco and Cancer (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
- Swallowing Problems (American Cancer Society) Also in Spanish
- Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
- General Information about Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
Statistics and Research
- Cancer of the Oral Cavity and Pharynx (National Cancer Institute)
- What Are the Key Statistics about Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancers? (American Cancer Society) Also in Spanish
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Effects of long noncoding RNA on prognosis of oral squamous cell...
- Article: Malignant transformation of oral potentially malignant disorders in Taiwan: An observational...
- Article: Clinicopathological characteristics of young never smoker females with oral cavity squamous...
- Oral Cancer -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- American Cancer Society
- Find a Cancer Doctor (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
- Find an ENT (American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery)
- Find an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons)
- National Cancer Institute Also in Spanish
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Also in Spanish
The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.