Oral Cancer: Your Top Questions Answered

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the mouth. It can affect any part of the mouth, including the tongue, lips, gums, cheeks, and throat. The most common symptom of oral cancer is a lump or sore that does not heal.

Oral cancer starts when cells in the mouth become damaged and change into abnormal cells. These cells form a tumor which can grow and spread to other parts of the body. Oral cancers can be caused by smoking or chewing tobacco products like cigarettes and chewing tobacco. There are also some infections that can increase your risk for developing oral cancer such as HPV or HIV.

What is the Purpose of an Oral Cancer Screening?

Oral cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the world. It is estimated that there are over 500,000 new cases every year.

The purpose of an oral cancer screening is to detect any abnormal cells on the surface of your mouth and inside your mouth. The earlier oral cancer is detected, the more likely it can be treated successfully. An oral cancer screening can also help identify other problems like cavities and gum disease.

What Happens During an Oral Cancer Screening?

The oral cancer screening is a quick and painless procedure. The dentist or doctor will use a mirror to look at the inside of your mouth and ask you questions about your medical history.
The dentist or doctor will first ask you to open your mouth wide, then they’ll use a mirror to look at the inside of your mouth and throat. They’ll also ask you about any problems that you might have had in the past or any family members who have had problems with their mouths.

If there’s anything that looks strange, they’ll talk to you about it. They’ll likely then make an appointment to take a biopsy (a small sample of tissue) from the area for testing.

What are Some Signs of Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is not always easy to detect because it does not always cause symptoms, but some signs include:

  • A sore throat that does not go away or hoarseness for more than two weeks.
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
  • A lump in the neck, face, lips or tongue that does not go away after two weeks.
  • Unusual bleeding from the mouth and/or nose.

How Often Should You Get Your Oral Cancer Screenings Done?

Regular dental examinations and teeth cleaning can help prevent oral cancer. The American Dental Association recommends getting your teeth cleaned twice a year to avoid plaque buildup, which is the main cause of gum disease.

In addition, you should see your dentist at least once every six months for a regular check-up. This will allow them to examine your mouth and throat for any signs of oral cancer or other problems that may arise in the future.


Oral cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and can be detected early on with regular dental visits. If you notice any new lumps or persistent sores in or around the mouth, you should visit your dentist and seek treatment from an oral surgery specialist immediately.


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