Mouth Cancer Information

Cancer doctors and nurses standing in a hospitalMouth cancer (also referred to as oral cancer) is a broad term that refers to any of the several types of cancer that can develop in the structures within the oral cavity. These diseases are categorized based on where they originated – as exemplified by the term “tongue cancer,” which develops in the cells of the tongue – or by the type of cell in which they develop, as with the term “squamous cell carcinoma,” which develops in the flat, thin squamous cells of the body.

Currently, researchers don’t know what directly causes mouth cancer, but some factors seem to place certain individuals at greater risk for developing mouth cancer, including:

  • Tobacco usage of any type
  • Heavy alcohol use (the correlation seems to be higher when used with tobacco)
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection
  • Exposure to UV rays (in the case of lip cancer)

Mouth cancer doesn’t always present symptoms that are noticeable to the average person, especially early in its development. As it grows it can cause pain in the tongue, sores that don’t heal, bleeding within the mouth, a consistently sore throat, or an earache, among other warning signs. A physician typically must perform a physical examination, imaging tests, biopsies, and/or blood tests to confirm the presence of the cancer.

If a mouth cancer diagnosis occurs, Tampa General Hospital’s team of oncologists and other medical professionals works with each patient to develop a treatment plan that will be the most effective for that individual. Our surgeons can remove part or all of a tumor if it is considered eligible for surgery, while our radiation therapy staff can destroy cancer cells using targeted beams of radiation. We can also complement these approaches with chemotherapy treatments.

For a physician referral, please call (813) 844-2200 or use our PhysicianFinder tool.