Oral cancer

  • Alternative Names

    Cancer - mouth; Mouth cancer; Head and neck cancer; Squamous cell cancer - mouth


    Sore, lump, or ulcer in the mouth:

    • May be a deep, hard-edged crack in the tissue
    • Most often pale colored, but may be dark or discolored
    • On the tongue, lip, or other area of the mouth
    • Usually painless at first (may develop a burning sensation or pain when the tumor is advanced)

    Other symptoms that may occur with oral cancer include:

    • Chewing problems
    • Mouth sores
    • Pain with swallowing
    • Speech difficulties
    • Swallowing difficulty
    • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
    • Tongue problems
    • Weight loss

    Signs and tests

    Your doctor or dentist will examine your mouth area. The exam may show:

    • A sore on the lip, tongue, or other area of the mouth
    • An ulcer or bleeding

    Tests used to confirm oral cancer include:

    • Gum biopsy
    • Tongue biopsy

    X-rays and CT scans may be done to determine if the cancer has spread.