Cancer that affects the inside of the mouth is called mouth cancer or Oral Cancer. Oral Cancer can look like a common problem with your lips or in your mouth, like white patches or sores that bleed. When oral cancer is left untreated, it can spread throughout the mouth and throat to other areas of the head and neck. Oral cancer includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat). It can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.


  • Smoking, cigar, or pipes
  • Use of tobacco
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Family history 


  • Sores on your lip or inside your mouth that bleed easily and don’t heal within two weeks
  • Rough spots or crusty areas on your lips, gums, or your mouth.
  • Unable to open mouth fully.
  • Areas in your mouth that bleed for no obvious reason
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking or moving your jaw or tongue
  • Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice
  • Ear pain
  • Chronic bad breath


  • Scrape Biopsy or Exfoliative cytology – A small brush or spatula is used to gently scrape the area to obtain cells for cancer examination
  • Incisional biopsy – Removal of a small piece of tissue to get cells for cancer examination
  • Indirect laryngoscopy – Use of small mirror on a long thin handle to look at the throat, the base of the tongue, and part of the larynx
  • Direct Laryngoscopy – Use of endoscope to look at the areas of the throat, and mouth that can’t be seen with mirrors 


Depending on the stage and location of oral cancer, reconstructive surgery might be done to help restore the appearance of the functions of the areas affected by cancer. 

A surgery to remove a tumor is called Tumor resection. Normal tissues surrounding the tumor, and margins are also removed to eradicate as many as cancer cells possible.

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When the tumor is spread in the jawbone, a mandibular resection or Mandibulectomy is performed. In this procedure, all or part of the jawbone is removed.

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To remove cancers of the tongue, Glossectomy surgery is done depending on the size of the tumor. When a tumor is small, a Partial Glossectomy is done. For larger tumors, total Glossectomy – Removal of the tongue is performed.

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This operation removes all or part of the hard palate, the front of the roof of the mouth.

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Removal of the voice box along with the primary tumor is known as Laryngectomy.

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This type of Oral Cancer surgery is used to remove lymph nodes in the neck if cancer has spread in this area. Partial or selective neck dissection to remove only part of lymph nodes. Modified radical neck dissection to remove most lymph nodes on one side of the neck between the jawbone and collarbone. Radical neck dissection to remove almost all lymph nodes on one side, with more extensive removal of muscle, nerves, and veins.

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Trans-Oral Robotic Surgery (TORS) is used to remove cancers of the back of the throat and mouth.

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Don't smoke or use any tobacco products and drink alcohol in moderation (and refrain from binge drinking). Eat a well-balanced diet. Limit your exposure to the sun. Repeated exposure increases the risk of cancer on the lip, especially the lower lip. When in the sun, use sun-protective lotions on your skin, as well as your lips See your dentist regular Conduct a self-exam of the mouth at least every month to check for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes on both sides of the neck. Check the roof of your mouth and the lining of your cheeks.

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  • Pain
  • Tiredness
  • Bleeding 
  • Constipation
  • Bloated face
  • Eating problems
  • Taste change
  • Symptoms from lymph node removal like ear numbness, shoulder weakness, or lower lip weakness

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Frequently Asked Questions

Oral cancers occur on the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat)

The application of radioactive energy to kill cancer cells is called Radiation treatment. Radiation oncologists are specialized in using radiation to treat cancer. 

Radiotherapy uses energy to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is a drug, most often given through an I.V. that kills cancer cells. 

If the tumor is in the front of the mouth, it might be easy to remove, but larger tumors when spread towards the throat, or voice box needs surgery to remove. 

The radiation therapy is started within 6 weeks after surgery for oral cancer.

Prefer eating cold rather than hot food. Rinse mouth with water before eating. Try lemon-flavoured drinks to stimulate saliva and taste. 

People with cancer of the oral cavity or oropharynx are at the risk of cancer coming back and also at the risk of developing head and neck cancer.

The cells lining the mouth are sensitive to radiation. so, radiotherapy is likely to make the mouth sore and the patient may have ulcers after a week. 

Yes, dental insurance plans cover oral cancer screening as preventive services for 100 percent cost. Talk to our HospiOne Team for more detailed information.

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