Head and Neck CancersJaw Cancer

Let’s Talk About Jaw Cancer

Unlike some hard-to-diagnose cancers, you can often see tumors of the jaw. If you do, check out these details on what steps to take next.

    Our Pro PanelJaw Cancer

    We went to some of the nation’s top experts on head and neck cancers to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Salvatore M. Caruana, M.D.

    Salvatore M. Caruana, M.D.Director of the Division of Head and Neck Surgery

    New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia University Medical Center
    New York, NY
    Nadia Mohyuddin, M.D.

    Nadia Mohyuddin, M.D.Head and Neck Surgical Oncologist, Associate Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology

    Houston Methodist Hospital
    Houston, TX
    J. Kenneth Byrd, M.D.

    J. Kenneth Byrd, M.D.Chief of Head and Neck Surgery, Medical Director and Research Director

    Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University
    Augusta, GA

    Frequently Asked QuestionsJaw Cancer

    Do jaw tumors affect men or women more?

    Most cancers that invade the jaw occur in men at least twice as often as they do women, like other head and neck cancers. Benign tumors and cysts may affect men and women equally, or men slightly more than women, depending on the type.

    Do I have to have a benign jaw tumor removed?

    Almost always, yes. Some of these tumors are quite aggressive and can get big enough to affect your ability to chew, swallow, and even talk. In addition, some of them, albeit rarely, can turn into malignancies over time if left untreated.

    What is the prognosis for cancers of the jaw?

    That’s a tricky question because most of them originate elsewhere and then invade the jaw, so you have to take the original type of cancer and the stage into account as well. When caught early, cancers of the hard palate that start in the gums or oral cavity have five-year survival rates of 81% and 72% respectively. Mandibular cancer that begins in the gums or the floor of the mouth have five-year survival rates of 81% and 73% when caught early.

    What is a lesion?

    Generally speaking, a lesion can be almost any abnormal change involving tissue, bone, or organs due to disease or injury. Lesions of the jaw are typically referred to as cysts. They may look similar to a tumor, but cysts contain liquid or semisolid material and are movable when you touch them. A tumor, on the other hand, is a sold mass of tissue that feels firm to the touch. Jaw cysts are usually benign, whereas tumors can be either benign or malignant.

    Stephanie Wood

    Stephanie Wood

    Stephanie Wood is a award-winning freelance writer and former magazine editor specializing in health, nutrition, wellness, and parenting.