Oral Cancer Surgery

Oral Cancer Surgery

Oral cancer (mouth cancer) is the most common form of head and neck cancer. It typically affects people age 60 and older. Oral cancer affects your lips and the first parts of your tongue, mouth roof and floor. It also affects your oropharynx — the last part of your tongue and roof of your mouth, your tonsils and the sides and back of your throat. Oral cancer (mouth cancer) is the broad term for cancer that affects the inside of the mouth. Oral cancer can look like a common problem with your lips or in your mouth, like white patches or sores that bleed. The difference between a common problem and potential cancer is these changes don’t go away. Left untreated, oral cancer can spread throughout your mouth and throat to other areas of your head and neck.

What causes oral cancer?

Oral cancer starts in the squamous cells in your oral cavity. Squamous cells are flat and, when viewed under a microscope, look like a fish scale.

Normal squamous cells become cancerous when their DNA changes and cells begin growing and multiplying. Over time, these cancerous cells can spread to other areas inside your mouth and then to other areas of your head and neck or other areas of your body.

What are oral cancer symptoms?

Oral cancer has several signs and symptoms that may be mistaken for common problems or changes in your mouth. For example, you may notice patches inside of your mouth that you can’t scrape away. These patches may be pre-cancerous conditions.