Oral Cavity Cancer Information

Group of doctors smiling at cameraOral cancer is a general term for all cancers that affect the structures of the mouth, including the gums, lips, tongue, cheeks, salivary glands, and the roof and floor of the mouth. These growths are distinguished from one another based on where they originate, as well as the types of cells in which they develop. Although oral cancers vary, they are all most responsive to treatment when detected in the earliest stages of development.

Symptoms of oral cavity cancer can range from minor nuisances (soreness/discomfort) to significant difficulties with essential functions such as chewing or swallowing. The specific symptoms a patient experiences will depend on the location and progression of the cancer. The most common symptoms include:

  • Teeth or dentures becoming loose without obvious cause
  • Tongue pain
  • Red or white plaques in the mouth
  • Mouth sores that don’t heal
  • Ongoing sore throat (lasting longer than six weeks)
  • The feeling of something being caught in the throat
  • Bleeding in the mouth
  • Earache
  • Thickening of the skin within the mouth

Many of these symptoms can also be attributed to other, less severe causes, so some testing is typically required for a physician to confirm or rule out a cancer diagnosis. Should an oral cancer diagnosis be confirmed through imaging results, blood tests, and/or a biopsy, patients should seek immediate treatment from a cancer specialist.

Tampa General Hospital treats patients who have any type of oral cavity cancer. Patients can rely on our interdisciplinary team’s extensive knowledge of the structures of the mouth and different cancer types, as well as our vast array of medical resources, including robotic surgery designed for precise treatment of head and neck cancers. With access to surgical interventions, chemotherapy infusions, precise radiation therapy delivery methods, and supportive care services like speech pathology, TGH provides comprehensive oral cancer treatment plans.

To learn all about the oral cancer treatment options we offer, or to schedule an appointment with Tampa General Hospital's ENT Oncology Program, please call (813) 844-2200.

Go back to Types of Cancer.