Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue, with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Mouth Cancer Symptoms may not notice early stage, these abnormal cells are termed cancer cells or malignant cells. Mouth cancer or oral cancer can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early stage, it can occur anywhere in the mouth.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in a body. These abnormal cells are termed cancer cells, malignant cells. Change happens in the genetic material (DNA), Cell mutations can result in cancer. The process of cancer cells leaving an area and growing in another body area, it is termed metastatic spread or metastasis.  Some substances that cause cancer are called carcinogens. Cancer staging is often determined by biopsy results and helps identify the cancer type and the extent of cancer spread.

Mouth cancer refers to cancer that develops in any of the parts that make up the mouth (oral cavity). Mouth cancer can occur on the:

  • Oral Mucosa, cheek & Inner lining of the cheeks
  • Lips
  • Gums
  • Tongue
  • The roof of the mouth
  • The floor of the mouth (under the tongue)
  • Hard and soft Palate
  • Pharynx (throat)
  • Sinus

Precancerous lesion(Premalignancy or Precancer): it is a benign morphologically altered tissue that has a greater risk to transform malignancy- to understand everyone in a simple way you can say it is not cancer but this a tissue lesion, which has a very higher risk to become cancer. Examples: Leukoplakia, Erythroplakia etc.

Precancerous condition: It is a disease or patient habit that does not necessarily alter the clinical appearance of local tissue but is associated with a greater than normal risk of Precancerous lesion. Example: Oral submucous fibrosis(OSMF).

Mouth Cancer Symptoms & Signs:

In the early stages, there are often no Symptoms, but peoples who are taking tobacco and heavy drinkers are prone to have oral cancer, should have regular check-ups with the dentist and they may identify early signs of cancer. The mouth cancer symptoms & signs of oral cancer depend on the location & it can be varied.

  • It generally thin, irregular, white patches or a mix of red and white patches in the mouth. The classic warning sign is a persistent rough patch with ulceration, and a raised border with minimal pain.
  • Mouth ulcers or sores that do not heal
  • Lump or thickening of the skin or lining of the mouth
  • Jaw pain or stiffness, difficulty in swallowing or speaking.
  • Hoarse voice or change in voice.
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth, persistent ear ache & loose teeth.
  • Numbness, loss of sensation, pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck etc.
  • Weight loss may notice.

Risk factors of developing mouth cancer or oral cancer are:

  • Tobacco: Users of snuff or chewing tobacco products are more likely to develop cancers. Tobacco item like khaini, Zarda, Gudakhu etc.
  • Smoking: Tobacco smokers including cigarettes, cigars, pipes etc
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Betel nut
  • Excessive sun or radiation exposure
  • Chronic irritation or chronic trauma by any particles, material, tooth.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Family history of cancer
  • Old age

How Mouth Cancer Diagnosed?

As part of your routine dental exam, your dentist will conduct an oral cancer check-up & screening. The dentist will do the biopsy to confirm. To better assess the size of the lesion CT scan, MRI may be needed, depending upon the condition other tests also may be needed.


It will be depending upon the condition & stage of cancer. Know about different treatments of mouth cancer:  

  • Surgical removal
  • Radiotherapy and chemotherapy
  • Targeted drug therapy

Prevention of Mouth Cancer:

  • Quitting or avoiding tobacco
  • Consume alcohol in limit or not at all
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure and using an umbrella or sunscreen on the lips.
  • Get a regular check-up from your Dentist; maintain proper oral health & general health.
  • Take a healthy diet, with plenty of fruit & vegetables- Click here to know in details
  • Exercise regularly


In the early stages, there are often no Symptoms, but peoples who are taking tobacco and heavy drinkers are prone to have oral cancer- so stop taking tobacco. Mouth cancer or oral cancer can be life-threatening only your Dentist can find the mouth cancer Symptoms & Signs, a regular dental check-up is very important.

1 Comment

Sarah Nas · July 24, 2019 at 7:13 PM

Really important article. Glad you wrote it. This is especially why a regular family dental check-up is important so that mouth cancer can be prevented across ages.

Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *