Mouth Cancer: Description, Symptoms, Stages, Causes, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Panorama and Prevention

It occurs mainly after age 40, and the risk is more than double in men than in women.


Mouth cancer, or oral cancer, can occur anywhere in the mouth, on the tongue’s surface, lips, inside the cheek, on the gums, on the roof and floor of the mouth, on the tonsils, and in the salivary glands.

It is a type of cancer similar to the head and neck and is often treated in the same way.


Oral cancer can appear as an injury or tumor anywhere in the mouth.

There are often no signs or symptoms in the early stages, but smokers and heavy drinkers should undergo regular check-ups with the dentist, as they can identify early signs.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Patches on the mouth or tongue lining, usually red or red and white.
  • Ulcers or sores in the mouth that do not heal.
  • Swelling that lasts more than three weeks.
  • A lump or thickening of the skin or lining of the mouth.
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Loose teeth for no apparent reason.
  • Poorly adjusted prostheses.
  • Pain in the jaw or stiffness.
  • Sore throat.
  • The sensation that something is stuck in the throat.
  • Pain in the tongue
  • Hoarsely.
  • Pain in the neck or in the ear that does not go away.

Having these symptoms does not mean that a person has mouth cancer, but it is worth consulting a doctor.



Cancer states are often labeled according to their severity.

Stage 1: The tumor is less than 1 inch wide and has not reached nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 2: The tumor measures 1 to 2 inches and has not reached nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 3: The tumor is more than 2 inches wide but has not spread or has spread to a nearby lymph node on the same side of the neck as the tumor, and the lymph node is no more than 1 inch wide.

Stage 4: cancer affects tissues around the mouth, lips, and possibly nearby lymph nodes, or it has spread to the rest of the body.

The cancer stage dictates how it is treated and the likelihood of recovery.


Cancer occurs when a genetic mutation orders cells to grow out of control. If left untreated, oral cancer will begin in one part of the mouth and then spread to other parts of the mouth, head and neck, and the rest of the body.

Mouth cancers usually start in the squamous cells lining the lips and inside the mouth. This is called squamous cell carcinoma.

The exact cause of the mutations is unknown, but there is evidence that certain risk factors increase the chances of developing mouth cancer.

Risk factor’s

Smoking is a significant risk factor for mouth cancer.

The consumption of tobacco and alcohol are prominent risk factors for mouth cancer.

Smokers are three times more likely than non-smokers to develop mouth cancer, and people who smoke and drink alcohol have up to 30 times more risk than those who do not smoke or drink.

Other risk factors include:

  • Exposure to ultraviolet rays on the lips, sun, sunlamps, or sunbeds.
  • A diet is rich in red meat, processed meat, and fried foods.
  • Disease Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).
  • VPN.
  • Radiation therapy or previous radiotherapy in the head, neck, or both.
  • Regularly chew betel nuts, a widespread habit in some parts of Southeast Asia.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, especially asbestos, sulfuric acid, and formaldehyde.

The National Health Service of the United Kingdom points out a “small possibility” that broken or jagged teeth increase the risk of mouth cancer. They encourage people to follow good oral and dental hygiene practices, including regular brushing, to reduce the risk.


The dentist may be the first to detect signs of cancer in the mouth.

A biopsy can be done, in which a small sample of tissue is taken to reveal cancer cells. Sometimes a “brush biopsy” is used at the beginning; This is where the cells are collected without pain by brushing them to the side.

If mouth cancer is diagnosed, the next task is to determine the stage of the tumor.

The tests include:

Endoscopy: where an endoscope illuminated by the patient’s throat is passed to see how far cancer has spread.

Imaging tests include x-rays, computerized tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Cancer staging will inform treatment options and help predict prognosis.


Treatment depends on the location and stage of cancer and the patient’s general health and personal preferences. A combination of treatments may be necessary.


Surgical removal involves removing the tumor and a margin of healthy tissue around it. A small tumor will require minor surgery, but surgery may include removing part of the tongue or jaw for larger tumors.

If cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck, the cancerous lymph nodes and related tissue in the channel will be removed surgically.

If surgery significantly changes the appearance of the face of the patient’s ability to talk, eat, or both, reconstructive surgery may be necessary. This involves using transplanted grafts of skin, muscle, or bone from other body parts. Dental implants may be required.

Radiation therapy

Oral cancers are susceptible to radiation therapy, which uses high-energy x-rays or radiation particles to damage DNA inside tumor cells, destroying their ability to reproduce.

External beam radiation provides radiation from the outside, while in brachytherapy, seeds and radioactive leads can be placed near cancer inside the body.

Brachytherapy is often used to treat patients with early stages of tongue cancer.

The radioactive wires or needles adhere directly to the tumor and release a dose of radiation into the tumor. The patient is usually under general anesthesia. A course usually lasts for 1-8 days.

A person with cancer in the early stage of the mouth may only need radiation therapy. Still, it can also be combined with surgery, chemotherapy, or both to prevent cancer from coming back.

Radiation therapy can eliminate cancer if a patient is in the early stages of oral cancer.

Adverse effects of radiation therapy on the mouth include:

  • Dental caries
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Bleeding of the gums.
  • Mandibular rigidity.
  • Fatigue.
  • Reactions of the skin, as with a burn.


Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery are three treatment options.

The treatment of generalized cancer can be with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, essentially if there is a significant probability that cancer may return at some point.

Chemotherapy involves using powerful drugs that damage the DNA of cancer cells, which undermines their ability to reproduce.

Chemotherapy medications can sometimes damage healthy tissue.

The following side effects may occur:

  • Fatigue.
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea.
  • Hair loss.
  • The weakened immune system increases the risk of infection.

These effects usually disappear after finishing the treatment.

Pharmacological therapy directed

Targeted drug therapy uses drugs known as monoclonal antibodies to change aspects of the cancer cells that help them grow.

Cetuximab, or Erbitux, is used for some head and neck cancers. Targeted medications can be combined with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

The following mild side effects are possible:

  • Nausea.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Inflammation of the eyes or conjunctivitis.

About 3% of patients will have an allergic reaction to cetuximab.


In the case of the diagnosis made to a person in state 1, the chances of surviving for more than five years is 83%. Approximately 31% of cases are diagnosed in this stage.

In those whose cancer spreads to other parts of the body, the chance of surviving more than five years is 38%.


Mouth cancer can be complicated and affect the prognosis of the condition.

Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing is the best known oral cancer accordingly.

Dysphagia can lead to malnutrition and food going the wrong way, causing suffocation, lung infections, or aspiration pneumonia.

If tests show that food particles enter the lungs of patients, a short-term feeding tube can be directly connected to the stomach while the patient learns exercises that improve their swallowing.

A person who continues to have problems may need to follow a special diet.

Speech problems are frequent. However, a therapist specializing in language can apply exercises focused on developing vocal movements.

There may also be depression, frustration, irritability, and anxiety. Joining a support group or online forum can be helpful, providing the opportunity to meet people with similar experiences.


A series of lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of mouth cancer.

These include:

  • Stop smoking or avoid tobacco.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation or nothing at all.
  • Avoid excessive exposure to the sun and use sunscreen on the lips.
  • Avoid junk food, saturated fats, and processed meats.

Evidence suggests that cancer development is lower among those who exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables, fish oil, olive oil, whole grains, and small amounts of animals or plants without grease.