What is Oral Cancer

Cancer occuring in the cells and tissues of the oral cavity (which starts at the lips and extends backwards to the fron part of the tonsils) or oropharynx (part of the throat) is mainly called as oral cancer.

Most oral cancers are Squamous cell carcinomas, which arises from the thin, flat surface cells of the throat lining inside the oral cavity and oropharynx.

  • India burdens about a third of oral cancer across the globe.
  • Indian estimate - Oral Cancer (Globocan,2014)


Signs and symptoms of oral cancer may include
  • Growth, lump or thickening of the skin or lining of your mouth
  • Sore that doesn't heal or bleeds
  • Loose teeth or poorly fitting dentures
  • Pain in tongue or jaw or ear
  • Difficult or painful chewing or swallowing
  • Hoarseness or change in voice
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • If the above signs/ symptoms persist for more than two weeks, one should consult a doctor.

Risk Factor

Factors that are associated with an increased risk of Oral cancer include:
  • Tobacco intake via cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco etc
  • Paan and areca nut are also causal agents
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Excessive ultraviolet rays exposure may lead to lip cancer
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection increases the risk of certain types of oral cancer, especially in younger people
  • People with weakened immunity are more prone to suffer from oral cancers


physical exam and history PET-CT SCAN biopsy
  • Examination of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as swollen lymph nodes in the neck or anything else that seems unusual.
  • Combined scans give more detailed pictures of areas inside the body than either scan gives by itself.
  • Removal of cells or tissues for viewing under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. A fine-needle biopsy is usually done to remove a sample of tissue using a thin needle.
Stages of Oral cancer
  • 0
    Cancer is presently only in the cells that line the oropharynx
  • 1
    Tumor is 2 cm or smaller and has not spread outside the oropharynx
  • 2
    Tumor is >2 cm, but <= 4cm and has not spread outside the oropharynx
  • 3
    Cancer is larger than 4 cm and has not spread outside the oropharynx
  • 0
  • 2
  • 4
Scale in centimetres

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