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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Mouth cancer

Matepukupuku waha

Mouth cancer (also known as oral cancer) is when a cancer grows in part of the mouth. This can be on the tongue, the roof of the mouth, the floor of the mouth (under the tongue), the lips, the gums or inside the cheeks.

Symptoms of mouth cancer include:

These symptoms can be caused by other conditions, but it's important to be checked by a doctor or dentist. Finding a mouth cancer early gives the best chance of being fully cured.

Causes of mouth cancer

We do not know the exact cause of mouth cancer, but some things increase your risk:

Diagnosing mouth cancer

Your doctor or dentist will listen to your symptoms and examine your mouth.

If there is a possible cancer growth, they will take a sample (biopsy) to be looked at in a laboratory.

If cancer is found, you may have tests to see how far it has spread such as an X-ray, CT or MRI scan.

Treating mouth cancer

Your treatment will depend on the size and type of cancer, how far it has spread and your general health.

Options include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy or a combination of these.

Many mouth cancers can be completely cured, especially if they're found early.

Preventing mouth cancer

Smoking is the biggest risk factor so being or becoming smokefree is the best way of preventing mouth cancer.

Other things you can do to reduce your risk include:

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created March 2022.

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Page reference: 954340

Review key: HIDRY-74891