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Education Resources

Oral Cavity Cancer

What is Oral Cavity Cancer?

Oral cavity cancer, or just oral cancer, is cancer that starts in the mouth (also called the oral cavity). The oral cavity includes the lips, the inside lining of the lips and cheeks (buccal mucosa), the teeth, the gums, the front two-thirds of the tongue, the floor of the mouth below the tongue, and the bony roof of the mouth (hard palate).

Most lip and oral cavity cancers are squamous cell carcinomas because they start in squamous cells that line the inside of the lips and mouth. As the cancer cells grow, they may spread into deeper tissue. Cancer of the oral cavity is one of several types of cancers grouped in a category called head and neck cancers.

It’s most common among people who smoke or use other tobacco products as well as those who drink, especially heavy drinkers.