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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Oral Cancer
      Category : Health Centers > Cancers and Tumors

Oral Cancer

Alternate Names : Squamous Cell Cancer of the Oral Cavity, Mouth and Throat Cancer

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Oral cancer is a group of abnormal cells that involves the mouth or the oropharynx. The oropharynx is the part of the throat at the back of the mouth.

What is going on in the body?

Oral cancer occurs in the top layer of cells lining the mouth and oropharynx. The abnormal cells may be found in the lips, tongue, or inside of the cheeks. The tumor may also involve the floor or roof of the mouth, the tonsils, or the oropharynx. Oral cancer may start as a sore that is not yet cancerous. Over time, probably years, it can develop into oral cancer.

Oral cancers can grow outward as a wart-like mass. Or they can be ulcers that invade inwardly. The longer that oral cancers grow untreated, the more likely they are to metastasize, or spread throughout the body.

What are the causes and risks of the disease?

Oral cancer can occur at any age, but is most common in people older than the age of 45. Some of the factors that increase a person's risk for oral cancer are as follows:

  • drinking alcohol
  • eating a poor diet
  • exposing the lips to sun
  • having gum disease, such as gingivitis and periodontitis
  • smoking, chewing tobacco, and using snuff
  • The herpes simplex and the human papillomavirus are being investigated as possible causes of oral cancer.


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    Oral Cancer: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Thomas Fisher, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 09/10/01

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