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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Oral Cancer
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Oral cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in any part of the mouth or lips. Most oral cancers start in the lining of the lips or mouth where you have thin, flat cells called squamous cells. This type of cancer may also be called oral cavity cancer or oropharyngeal cancer.
Things that increase your risk for oral cancer include using tobacco and heavy alcohol use. Other risk factors are being male and having an HPV infection. For cancers of the lip, exposure over a long period of time to ultraviolet light from the sun or from tanning beds increases risk.
Some combinations of risk factors, such as using tobacco and drinking alcohol, increase the risk for oral cancer more than either risk factor alone.
Symptoms of oral cancer include sores or lumps on the lips or in your mouth. Talk with your doctor if you have any of these signs:
Your dentist or doctor may look closely at your lips, mouth, or throat to check for signs of oral cancer. Other tests may be needed if there are possible signs of cancer. These tests may include a biopsy, an X-ray, or an MRI.
Treatment for oral cancer is based on the stage of the cancer and other things, such as your overall health. Treatment options may include:
The doctor may remove the cancer along with a border of normal tissue around it, called a margin.
This uses high-dose X-rays to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors.
These medicines kill fast-growing cells, including cancer cells and some normal cells. Chemotherapy and radiation may be given together. This is called chemoradiation.
In some cases, targeted therapy or immunotherapy may be an option. A clinical trial may be a good choice.
Your doctor will talk with you about your options and then make a treatment plan.
The following steps may help prevent oral cancer.
Researchers are studying how people can make changes in their lifestyles to reduce their risk for cancer. One change that may reduce the risk for oral cancer is eating more fruits and fiber-rich vegetables.
Current as of:
December 17, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineJimmy Ruiz MD - Hematology, Oncology
Current as of: December 17, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Jimmy Ruiz MD - Hematology, Oncology
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