Oral Cancer - Stages and Types of Mouth/Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers in India. A large percentage of oral cancer cases are attributed to tobacco and alcohol consumption. Oral cancer has a better prognosis when it is diagnosed and treated in the early stages.

What Is Oral Cancer?

The oral cavity comprises different parts, namely the lips, gums, tongue, teeth, inside cheeks, roof of the mouth, and floor. These parts of the oral cavity have different types of cells that divide based on the information present in their DNA. Due to certain factors, such as radiation or excessive tobacco exposure, the information in the DNA changes (the process is called mutation), resulting in uncontrolled cell division. This excessive cell division leads to the formation of tumors in the oral cavity, and the condition is known as oral cancer or mouth cancer. Men are at greater risk of developing oral cancer than women.

How Common is Mouth Cancer/Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is one of the top ten cancers globally. India has the largest number of mouth cancer cases, accounting for about one-third of the global burden of the disease. Approximately 70% of the oral cancer cases in India are diagnosed in advanced stages; thus, the five-year survival rate in India is only 20%.

Where does Oral Cancer Start?

Mouth cancer may start in any location of the oral cavity:

Common Types of Oral Cancer

Some of the common types of mouth cancer are

What are the Stages of Oral Cancer?

The stages of Oral Cancer are:

Oral Cancer vs. Ulcers: What Should You Know?

There are several differences between oral cancer and mouth ulcers. Mouth cancer is usually not painful, whereas mouth ulcers are almost always painful. Mouth ulcers heal within 2 to 3 weeks, while oral cancer does not heal and begins to spread gradually.


Oral carcinoma develops in the tissues/organs in the oral cavity, such as the gums, tongue, palate, and lips. There are different types of oral cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common cancer of the oral cavity. Other types of oral cancer include lymphoma, mucosal melanomas, and minor salivary gland tumors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Oral cancer is either a sore that doesn’t heal, reddish or white patches inside the mouth, or a lump or growth in the oral cavity.

Early-stage oral cancer can be effectively treated with surgical resection. However, advanced-stage oral cancer is difficult to treat and requires aggressive therapy.

Traditionally, the five Ss that increase oral cancer risk include smoking, syphilis, spirits, spices, and sharp teeth.

The seriousness of mouth cancer depends upon several factors, such as the type of cancer, the location of the cancer, if the diagnosis is made in the beginning oral cancer stages, and the overall health of the patient.

Advanced oral carcinomas are relatively more challenging to treat than early-stage oral cancers. Further, certain oral carcinoma types, such as mucosal melanomas, are rapidly progressive.

Oral mucosal melanoma is the most aggressive oral cancer. Most cases of mucosal melanomas are diagnosed at advanced stages.

The common sites of oral cancer include the lips, tongue, and floor of the mouth.

Yes, oral cancer is treatable. However, the survival rate and the overall prognosis are better when it is diagnosed in the early stages.