Center for Research in Oral Cancer

Faculty of Dental Sciences

Center for Research in Oral Cancer

University of Peradeniya

Oral Cancer Facts

    Oral squamous cell carcinoma synonymously defined as oral cancer is the commonest malignancy in males of Sri Lanka. Research has shown convincingly that the ingredients in the betel quid especially tobacco and arecanut are very dangerous carcinogens.

Types of Oral Cancer

    More than 90% of cancers that occur in the oral cavity and oropharynx are squamous cell carcinoma. Normally, the throat and mouth are lined with so-called squamous cells, which are flat and arranged in a scale-like way. Squamous cell carcinoma means that some squamous cells become genetically altered and starts to proliferate without any control. Then it spreads to other areas and kills the patient.

    About 5% of all oral cavity tumors are verrucous carcinomas. It is a type of very slow growing cancer made up of squamous cells. This type of oral cancer does not spread to other parts of the body, but can invade the tissue surrounding the site of origin.

    This category includes several kinds of oral cancer that develop from minor salivary glands, which are found throughout the lining of the mouth and throat. These types include adenoid cystic carcinoma, mucoepidermoid carcinoma, and polymorphous low-grade adenocarcinoma and many more.
    The cancers that develop from lymphoid tissue are called lymphomas. The tonsils and base of the tongue both contain lymphoid tissue. Broadly they are divided in to Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma .

    Many different types of malignancies arising from different mecenchymal cells as known as sarcomas. i.e. Leiomyosarcoma, Fibrosarcoma etc.

    Some of the most common oral cancer symptoms and signs include:

    • Persistent mouth sore: A sore in the mouth that does not heal is the most common symptom of oral cancer
    • Pain: Persistent mouth pain is another common oral cancer sign
    • A lump or thickening in the cheek
    • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
    • A sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat that does not go away
    • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
    • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
    • Numbness of the tongue or elsewhere in the mouth
    • Jaw swelling that makes dentures hurt or fit poorly
    • Loosening of the teeth Pain in the teeth or jaw
    • Voice changes
    • A lump in the neck
    • Weight loss
    • Persistent bad breath
    If any of these oral cancer symptoms or signs are present for days or weeks, your doctor may recommend tests to check for oral cancer. As with any cancer, having your cancer diagnosed as soon as possible will ensure effective treatment and possible cure.