X-rays and CT, MRI and PET scans may be done to determine if the cancer has spread.
Surgery to remove the tumor is usually recommended if the tumor is small enough. Surgery may be used together with radiation therapy and chemotherapy for larger tumors.
Other treatments may include speech therapy or other therapy to improve movement, chewing, swallowing, and speech.
You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.
Approximately half of people with oral cancer will live more than 5 years after they are diagnosed and treated. If the cancer is found early, before it has spread to other tissues, the cure rate is nearly 90%. More than half of oral cancers have spread when the cancer is detected. Most have spread to the throat or neck.
Complications of radiation therapy, including dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
Disfigurement of the face, head, and neck after surgery
Oral cancer may be discovered when the dentist does a routine cleaning and examination.
Call your health care provider if you have a sore in your mouth or lip or a lump in the neck that does not go away within 1 month. Early diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer greatly increases the chance of survival.
Oral cancer may be prevented by:
Avoiding smoking or other tobacco use
Having dental problems corrected
Limiting or avoiding alcohol use
Visiting the dentist regularly and practicing good oral hygiene
National Cancer Institute: PDQ Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer Treatment. Bethesda, Md: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified: July 16, 2012. Available at: http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/lip-and-oral-cavity/HealthProfessional. Accessed: February 3, 2014.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines): Head and neck cancers. Version 2.2013. Available at: http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/head-and-neck.pdf. Accessed: February 3, 2014.
Wein RO, Malone JP, Weber RS. Malignant neoplasms of the oral cavity. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund VJ, et al., eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Mosby; 2010:chap 96.
Ashutosh Kacker, MD, FACS, Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.