Mouth cancer – Symptoms, Stages, Risk factors, Treatments and more

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What is Mouth cancer?

Mouth cancer

Mouth cancer is a type of cancer that can occur in any area of the mouth (oral cavity). It is also referred to as Oral cancer. It usually affects adults over the age group of 60. Oral cancer affects your lips, tongue and the roof (top) and floor (bottom) of your mouth. It also affects the oropharynx, which includes the last section of your tongue.

Who is affected by Oral cancer? 

Oral cancer is more common in persons over the age of 45, although it can strike anyone at any age. Oral cavity cancer occurs if you don’t get regular dental care and don’t practice good oral hygiene.

How does Oral cancer affect my body?

Oral cancer causes symptoms like oral discomfort, fatigue and nausea. It also gives indications such as a fever, rash or an increased pulse.

Parts present in the oral cavity

The oral cavity present in the mouth comprises the following parts which are predominant for the functioning of the mouth:


Lips are soft, flexible structures that act as a portal for food intake. Human lips are a tactile sensory organ that helps in the articulation of sound and speech.


Gums are a portion of the lining of the mouth’s soft tissue. They act as a protective barrier around the teeth. The majority of the gums are firmly attached to the underlying bone of the mouth, which helps to reduce food friction.

The lining of the cheeks  

Buccal mucosa is present inside the mouth lining of the cheeks and rear of the lips where they touch the teeth. It is also referred to as linea alba. The lining appears as a horizontally running elevated white line between the top and bottom area of the teeth.

The first two-thirds of your tongue

The first two-thirds of your tongue is responsible for the feeling of the sense of taste. This important part is present in the oral cavity region. A nerve named chorda tympani which carries taste fibres provides taste to the front two-thirds of the tongue.

The floor of your mouth  

The floor of the mouth is a U-shaped region found beneath the tongue of the oral cavity. The gap between the mucosal surface and the mylohyoid muscle sling is considered the floor of the mouth.

First part of the roof of your mouth

The palate is called the roof of the mouth. It is separated into two sections – the front section and the back section. The front section has hard ridges, known as a hard palate. A soft palate refers to the back part of the palate.

Wisdom teeth  

Most people obtain their wisdom teeth in their late teens or in their early twenties. Wisdom teeth are usually a valuable asset to the mouth; however, they are frequently misaligned and require removal.

Condition of Mouth cancer


Leukoplakia occurs on the inside surfaces of your mouth as thick and white patches. It is caused by a variety of factors, including repetitive damage or irritation. It could potentially be an indication of Mouth cancer or precancerous alterations.


Erythroplakia is a raised or flat red patch on the skin. Erythroplakia may cause bleeding when scraped.  


Erythroleukoplakia is an abnormal patch of red and white tissue that grows on the mouth’s mucous membranes. This condition may turn cancerous if left untreated. Tobacco and alcohol consumption may raise the chance of getting prone to Erythroleukoplakia.

Symptoms of Mouth cancer  

Symptoms of Mouth cancer?

Some of the common symptoms of Mouth cancer include:


The increase of organs, skin or other body parts is known as swelling. Swellings are majorly caused due to accumulation of fluid in the tissues. This accumulation of fluids leads to rapid weight gain in a short amount of time.

Bleeding in the mouth

Blood in the mouth is most commonly caused due to problems like chewing or swallowing something sharp substances. It can also be triggered due to mouth sores, gum disease or even aggressive flossing. It may look like your throat is bleeding if you cough up blood.

Loss of feeling  

Numbness is loss of sensation or feeling in a specific part of the body. It can either be whole or partial. Although it is a common symptom of many different medical diseases, it is usually a sign of a problem with the body’s nerves. Most of the numbness cases are minor.

Sore throat

A sore throat is characterised by soreness, irritation and scratchiness in the throat that intensifies when swallowed. A viral illness like a cold or the flu, is the most common cause of a painful throat.  

A streptococcal infection, or strep throat, is one of the types of sore throat that is caused by bacteria.

Ear pain  

Ear pain is discomfort in the inner or outer ear that can impair hearing. It is frequently caused by excess fluid and infection.

Dramatic weight loss  

Unintentional weight loss is losing weight without modifying your diet or exercise habits. It could indicate a stressful situation or a dangerous illness. There are numerous reasons for unintentional weight reduction.

Stages of Mouth cancer 

Stage 0  

This is the very beginning stage of cancer. This stage is also referred to as carcinoma in situ. This stage denotes the presence of abnormal lining in the oral cavity, which may turn into cancer if left untreated.

Stage 1

This stage is the very early stage of mouth cancer. This stage has tumours in your mouth that measure 2 centimetres or less than 2 centimetres.

Stage 2  

This is the next level of stage 1 Cancer. Here, the depth of the tumour is 2 centimetres or smaller but isn’t larger than 4 centimetres.

Stage 3  

At stage 3, the cancer cells may spread to the lymph nodes of the neck. Here, the tumour is larger than 4 centimetres.

Stage 4  

Stage 4 is the last and most advanced stage of Mouth cancer. At stage 4, the cancer cells could have spread and affected places like lymph nodes, nearby tissues and other parts of the body like the lungs and oesophagus.

Risk Factors of Mouth cancer

Risk Factors of Mouth cancer


Tobacco and alcohol are the primary causes of Oral cancer. Tobacco and alcohol are both carcinogenic; that is, they contain substances that can harm cell DNA and cause cancer. Your risk of Mouth cancer doubles when you drink alcohol or smoke.

Smokeless tobacco use  

Smokeless tobacco users chew the tobacco fluids by placing snuff between their inner cheek and gums on the bottom part of their jaw. Usually, saliva builds up in the mouth when smoking.

Excessive consumption of alcohol  

Overconsumption of alcohol not only causes mouth cancer. But also leads to life-threatening problems like High blood pressure, Heart disease, Stroke, Liver disease and digestive issues are all linked to high blood pressure.

Family history of cancer

The majority of cancer patients have no cancer relatives who have had the disease. Cancer is inherited in approximately 5% to 10% of all cases. Hereditary cancer refers to a genetic mutation or change in a person’s DNA that makes them more prone than others to develop cancer.

Excessive sun exposure  

Sun exposure harms both the eyes and the skin. Even a day in the sun might cause corneal burns in the outer clear membrane layer of the eye. Long-term exposure to the sun can lead to cataracts clouding the eye lens, which causes blurred vision.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)  

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that is spread from person to person by skin-to-skin contact. HPV comes in over 100 different kinds, with more than 40 of them being transmitted through sexual contact and affecting your genitals, mouth and throat.


The most common diseases in developed countries are Cancer, Cardiovascular disease and Neurodegeneration. The greatest risk factor for any disease is age.


In most communities, Oral cancer (OC) is a neoplasm with a high male to female ratio. The fact that women have a lower incidence of this tumour than men suggests endocrine involvement in its development.  

Poor diet  

Following a poor diet plan and not eating at regular times causes a serious health threat to your body. It also causes many diseases to affect your body to make your immune system worse and fragile.

Treatments for Mouth cancer

Mouth cancer can be treated by the application of the following therapies:

Radiation therapy  

Radiation Therapy

After surgery, radiation therapy is frequently utilised to eradicate cancer cells that linger in the mouth cavity. Radiation therapy is carried out only when the doctors believe it can eradicate oral cancer tumours while preserving the ability to chew, swallow and speak.

Targeted therapy  

Targeted drug therapy is the use of medicines that target cancer cells to stop them from growing, spreading and surviving. Targeted medication therapy can be utilised to eliminate or reduce the growth of cancer cells to preserve the oral cavity of the mouth.


Surgery and radiation therapy are effective treatments for most patients with stage I or II oral cavity malignancies. Chemotherapy medications like Carboplatin and 5-FU are a popular combo used for the treatment of oral cancer. This combination diminishes the malignancies of the oral cavity and oropharynx.


Immunotherapy is the alternative treatment to fight against the malignancies of the Oral cavity and oropharyngeal. Immunotherapy is the use of drugs to examine a person’s immune system to detect and kill cancer cells. It enhances the immunological response by targeting certain proteins in the immune system.

Surgeries to treat Oral cancer

The following are the surgeries done especially for the treatment of oral cancer:

Primary tumour surgery  

The surgeon removes the cancerous tissue as well as a small amount of normal tissue around the tumour in your mouth. Reconstruction is done to repair the damaged area of the tissue. This surgery involves removing healthy tissue from another section of your body.


Glossectomy is a technique and procedure employed to remove tongue cancers. Partial glossectomy is removing only a portion of the tongue that has minor tumours. Larger tumours require the removal of a larger part of the tongue.


Mandibulectomy or mandibular resection is removing all or part of the jaw bone that has tumours. Surgery is recommended if the tumour has progressed into the jaw bone. Difficulty in jaw movement is due to the spread of cancer cells into the jaw bone.


Maxillectomy is the removal of affected bone (maxilla) that has spread to the hard palate (front part of the roof of the mouth). A maxillectomy or partial maxillectomy is removing the entire part or partial part of the bone.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy

A sentinel lymph node biopsy is a minimally invasive supplemental method for determining if a patient with a clinically negative neck has occult metastatic disease. This approach improves the specificity of neck dissection, lowering morbidity in patients with oral cancer.

Neck dissection 

Patients with lateralised oropharyngeal cancer who are undergoing up-front curative surgery should have an ipsilateral level II to IV neck dissection.


Reconstruction occurs along with the removal of the malignancy. Tissue or bone from another part of the body may be transferred to the mouth cavity during reconstruction. Microvascular surgery is a surgery that cuts and sews small blood vessels together to transfer the tissue.

Prevention of mouth cancer

Get vaccinated for human papillomavirus  

HPV vaccines can be given to children under the age of nine. Children who begin the HPV vaccine series after turning 15 require three doses spread out over six months. Even if you have had an abnormal Pap test, you should still get the HPV vaccine because you are unlikely to have been infected with all of the strains of HPV.  

Eat a well-balanced diet  

A good diet can prevent the human body from some diseases, particularly non-communicable diseases like obesity, Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and skeletal disorders. Healthy eating habits can also help you maintain a healthy weight.

Regular Dental Checkups  

Regular dental visits help to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. During your dental exam, your dentist will check your entire mouth for any potential concerns. During the cleaning, your dentist will remove any plaque or tartar buildup and polish your teeth.

Drink alcohol in moderation  

For healthy people, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Moderate alcohol use has various health advantages, which include lowering your chances of getting,

Summing up

A person’s treatment and medicine for Oral or Oropharyngeal cancer will be determined by the stage and severity of cancer.

People should avoid using any type of tobacco product to lower their risk of oral cancer. They should also avoid consuming too much alcohol, chewing betel nuts and maintaining a regular dental examination.


1.Is Mouth cancer a chronic or temporary condition?

Mouth cancer becomes a completely curable cancer if the cancer cells do not spread beyond the mouth and throat. Otherwise, it may turn into a chronic disease.

2.What is the leading cause of Mouth cancer?

One of the main leading reasons for the cause of Mouth cancer is tobacco and alcohol.

3.What is the first stage of Mouth cancer?

The first stage of Mouth cancer is called the grade 1 stage. This stage shows symptoms akin to Esophageal cancer.

4.What does Mouth cancer look like?  

The first stage of Mouth cancer comes up with slight signs and symptoms. Early signs and symptoms of oral cancer include a mouth sore that won’t go away (the most common symptom). Gums, tongue, tonsils, or mouth lining may have a white or red area.

5.Does Mouth cancer hurt in the early stages?

Mouth cancer rarely produces pain in its early stages. Flat patches are common signs of abnormal cell development. A canker sore resembles an ulcer, with a depression in the middle. The cancer sore’s centre may be white, grey or yellow, while the margins are red.

6. How does Mouth cancer go away?  

If cancer has not gone beyond the mouth or the region of your throat at the rear of your mouth (oropharynx), surgery alone may be enough to cure you completely. Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be required if the cancer is big or has spread to your neck.

7.Where does Mouth cancer usually start?  

The flat, thin cells (squamous cells) that line your lips and the inside of your mouth are where most mouth cancers start.

8.What is the last stage of mouth cancer?  

The most advanced stage of oral cancer is Stage IV. It can be any size, but it has spread to adjacent tissue like the jaw and other regions of the oral cavity.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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