Oral cancer

Oral cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in any part of the mouth. The risk for getting oral cancer is increased for people who smoke, use smokeless (spit) tobacco, or use alcohol excessively.

Symptoms of oral cancer may include:

  • A sore in the mouth that bleeds easily and does not heal within 2 to 3 weeks.
  • A lump or thickening in the cheek that can be felt with the tongue.
  • A persistent white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth.
  • Soreness or a feeling that something is caught in the throat that persists for more than 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Unexplained difficulty chewing or swallowing or moving the jaw or tongue.
  • Lasting numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth.
  • Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or cause discomfort.

Treatment for oral cancer can include radiation therapy and surgery to remove the cancer.

Last Updated: March 5, 2009

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Arden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry

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