Oral Cancer

Oral, or mouth, cancer is when cancerous cells (tumour) develop on the surface of the tongue, mouth, lips or gums. In some cases this can occur in the salivary glands, tonsils and area of the throat leading from your mouth to your windpipe (the pharynx). Symptoms of mouth cancer can include:

  • Mouth ulcers that do not heal
  • Red, or red and white, patches on the lining of your mouth or tongue
  • A swelling in your mouth that lasts for more than 3 weeks


Mouth cancer occurs when there is an abnormality in the lifecycle of cells in the mouth, causing them to grow and reproduce uncontrollably, and become cancerous. Activities which may increase risk for developing mouth cancer include:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol (heavy drinkers who also smoke will have a much higher risk compared to the general population)
  • HPV infection (Human Papilloma Virus); the virus which causes genital warts
  • A diet containing large quantities of red meat and fried food


There are 3 main treatment options for mouth cancer:

  • Surgery: The cancerous cells, and potentially some of the surrounding tissue, are surgically removed
  • Chemotherapy: Powerful medication is used to kill the cancerous cells
  • Radiotherapy: High energy X-rays are used to kill the cancerous cells

A combination of these treatments are commonly used to treat mouth cancer; to both remove the cancerous cells and prevent the cancer returning.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Oral/Mouth Cancer

The three most effective ways to prevent developing mouth cancer (or prevent it returning after successful treatment) are:

  • Not smoking
  • Following the recommended weekly limits for alcohol consumption (21 units for men and 14 units for women)
  • Eating a ‘Mediterranean-style diet’, including plenty of fresh vegetables (particularly tomatoes), citrus fruits, olive oil and fish

Regular dental check-ups are also vital to detect the early stages of mouth cancer, enabling the most effective treatment possible.

Arrange An Appointment

To arrange an appointment with us, or if you have questions and want to find out more, please feel free to contact the practice. Talk to a dentist

Watch our Video

Angle the bristles at 45º to the gum line. There’s no need to scrub – hold the brush in position and after a few seconds sweep the bristles away from the gum. Repeat around the outer and inner surfaces of all teeth. Particularly effective inter-dentally. The whole procedure should take about 2 minutes.

“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”

— Richard James Molloy