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Mouth Cancer

Most lip and oral cavity cancers start in squamous cells, the thin, flat cells that line the lips and oral cavity. These are called squamous cell carcinomas. Cancer cells may spread into deeper tissue as the cancer grows.

Various treatments are available for patients with lip and oral cavity cancer. Some are standard; others are being tested in clinical trials.

Treatment Options for Mouth, Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer 

Surgery and radiation therapy are the two types of standard treatment for all stages of lip and oral cavity cancer.

  • Wide local excision in which the cancer and a margin of healthy tissue is removed
  • Neck dissection in which lymph nodes and other tissues in the neck are removed
  • Plastic surgery to restore or improve the appearance of the head and neck

Dental implants, a skin graft or other plastic surgery may be needed to repair parts of the mouth, throat or neck after removal of large tumors.

What Makes up the Oral Cavity? 

The oral cavity includes the:

  • Front two-thirds of the tongue
  • Gums
  • Lining of the inside of the cheeks (buccal mucosa)
  • Floor of the mouth under the tongue
  • Roof of the mouth (hard palate)
  • Small area behind the wisdom teeth (retromolar trigone)