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Precancerous Mouth Cancer

Precancerous Mouth Cancer is cancer that occurs in any part of the mouth (oral cavity) that makes up the mouth. Oral cancer can occur in:

  • Lips
  • Gums
  • Tongue
  • Inner cheek
  • Taste
  • Bottom of mouth (beneath the tongue)
Precancerous Mouth Cancer that occurs inside the mouth is sometimes called oral cancer or oral cancer
Oral cancer is one of several types of cancer that are grouped into a category called head and neck cancer. Oral cancer and other head and neck cancers are often treated in a similar way.


Signs and symptoms of oral cancer may be
  • Incurable lip or mouth sores
  • White or red patches on the inside of the mouth
  • Growth or lump in the mouth
  • Mouth pain
  • Earache
  • Difficulty or pain swallowing

When You Should See a doctor

If you have signs and symptoms that continue to bother you for more than two weeks, make an appointment with your doctor or dentist. 

Your doctor may first investigate other, more common causes of your signs and symptoms, such as: Infections.


Oral cancer occurs when DNA changes (mutations) occur in cells in the lips or mouth. The DNA of any cell contains instructions that tell the cell what to do. 

When healthy cells die, mutational changes tell the cells to continue growing and dividing. The accumulation of abnormal oral cancer cells can form tumors. 

Over time, they can spread to the mouth and other parts of the head and neck, or other parts of the body.

Oral cancer most commonly develops in the thin, flat cells (squamous cells) of the lips and inside the mouth. Most mouth cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.

It is not known what causes the squamous cell mutation that causes oral cancer. However, doctors have identified factors that may increase the risk of oral cancer.

Risk factor

Factors that may increase the risk of oral cancer include:

  • Tobacco use of any kind, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff
  • heavy drinking
  • Too much sun exposure on lips
  • Sexually transmitted virus called human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Weakened immune system


There is no proven way to prevent oral cancer. However, you can reduce your risk of oral cancer if you:

  • Quit smoking or don't start. If you use tobacco, please stop. If you don't use tobacco, don't start. Using tobacco, whether smoked or chewed, exposes cells in the mouth to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if available. Excessive drinking over a long period of time can stimulate cells in the mouth, making them susceptible to oral cancer. If you manage to drink alcohol, do so in middling. For healthy adults, this means up to one drink per day for women of all ages and men over 65, and up to two drinks per day for men 65 and younger.
  • Avoid excessive exposure of your lips to the sun. Stay in the shade as much as possible to protect the skin of your lips from the sun. Wear a wide-brimmed hat that effectively covers your entire face, including your mouth. Apply sunscreen lip products as part of your daily sunscreen regimen.
  • Go to the Dentist regularly. As part of a routine dental exam, have your dentist examine your entire mouth for abnormal areas that may indicate oral cancer or precancerous lesions.

How to Diagnose Mouth Cancer:

  • Physical examination. Your doctor or dentist will examine your lips and mouth for abnormalities such as sores and irritated areas such as white patches (leukoplakia).
  • The tissue is removed for examination (Biopsy). If suspicious areas are found, your doctor or dentist may take a sample of cells for laboratory tests in a procedure called a biopsy. The doctor may use a cutting tool to cut out the tissue sample or use a needle to remove the sample. In the laboratory, cells are checked for cancerous or precancerous changes that indicate future cancer risk.


Treatment for oral cancer depends on the location and stage of the cancer, as well as your general health and personal preferences. 

You may only have one treatment, or you may have more than one cancer treatment. Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Discuss your options with your doctor.