What is it?

Oral cancer characterizes a group of malignancies, including lip cancer, tongue cancer, floor of mouth cancer, and more. The leading cause of oral cancer is tobacco smoking and alcohol use. People who use tobacco in cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco or have a high alcohol intake are at elevated risk. They are at particularly high risk if they use both tobacco and alcohol. Other risk factors include HPV infection and sun exposure to the lips area.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Mouth Cancer

Signs & symptoms

Symptoms of oral cancer vary depending on the area of the tumor and may include:
- Thin white patches in the mouth area.
- A sense of a bulge on the lip, tongue, or in the mouth.
- Ulcers on the lips, tongue, or mouth.
- Difficulty swallowing or eating.
- Sore throat.
- Cough or hoarse voice.


Diagnosis is made through questioning and investigating medical history, list of prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Physical examination of the oral cavity, chest, stomach, and maybe other systems to provide additional information and exclude other diseases. If a diagnosis of oral cancer is established, more tests would be conducted to determine the stage of the disease (stages I to IV). Another possible test includes:
- Endoscopy – a procedure that allows looking at the throat and stomach from the inside, and taking a biopsy, using a special camera inserted through the mouth.
- Biopsy – includes the insertion of a needle to the diseased area and extraction of a small sample for microscopic inspection.
- CT, MRI, or PET-scan – to look for metastases and define the size of the lesion.
- Blood testing.


The rate of curability of cancers of the lip and oral cavity varies depending on the stage and specific area of the tumor, and may consist of the following:
- Surgery.
- Radiation therapy - a treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
- A combination of the above.
Early cancers (stage I and stage II) of the lip and oral cavity are highly curable by surgery or radiation therapy. Advanced cancers (stage III and stage IV) of the lip and oral cavity represent more challenges for treatment, and most will require treatment by a combination of surgery and radiation therapy.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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