The Different Types of Oral Cancers

Woman crying Tumors can develop almost anywhere in your body, and your mouth is no exception. And when they’re cancerous, it’s a huge problem. Although there are many things that could be a factor in the development of oral cancer, smoking or chewing tobacco is often a major factor. Here’s what you need to know about the various types of oral cancer.

Precancerous Tumors
Although technically not cancerous themselves, these two conditions are anything but benign. If a whitish patch starts to form inside your mouth, you might have leukoplakia. If a similar patch appears except it is red and raised, it might be erythroplakia. Either of these conditions can become cancerous, and so you should get them checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma
90% of oral cancers fall under this category. Your squamous cells are the cells that line your entire oral cavity: mouth, tongue, and lips. Therefore, this cancer affects the linings of your mouth and throat. It is not invasive until it spreads beyond the lining.

Lip Cancer
The most common oral cancer, lip cancer is usually a type of squamous cell carcinoma. It affects men much more than women. Symptoms include:

  • A sore on the lip that will not heal
  • A lump
  • Constant or consistent pain
  • White or red patches in the mouth, as mentioned above
  • Toothache

It is important to pay attention to the symptoms, as many people originally believe them to be signs of a persistent cold or something much milder than cancer.

Tongue Cancer
This is another cancer that is most often in the squamous cells. Very similar to lip cancer, this is defined by oral pain, difficulty chewing or swallowing, and a sore throat. The main difference is that the symptoms will be concentrated around the front part of your tongue. If you are experiencing pain in the back 1/3 of your tongue, it is actually not considered oral cancer, but rather head and neck cancer.

Mouth Cancer
More general, mouth cancer has similar symptoms but can affect any part of the mouth. It can actually include both tongue and lip cancer.

If it is detected early enough, the best treatment is surgery to remove the cancerous growth. However, lip cancer can also be treated with radiation, chemotherapy, and drugs.

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