Understanding Oral Cavity and Lip Cancers

The Oral Cavity

The Oral Cavity is comprised of several parts. They are the:
  • front two thirds of the tongue
  • teeth
  • gingiva (gums)
  • buccal mucosa (the lining of the inside of the cheeks)
  • floor (bottom) of the mouth under the tongue
  • hard palate (the roof of the mouth)
  • retromolar trigone (the small area behind the wisdom teeth)

The oral cavity helps you to breathe, talk, eat, chew, and swallow. Minor salivary glands located throughout the oropharynx make saliva that keeps your mouth moist and helps you digest food. And, It is composed of several types of body tissues, which are made up of several types of cells.

Oral cavity cancer starts and develops in the mouth.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas

More than 90% of oral cavity cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, also called squamous cell cancers. Squamous cells are flat, scale-like cells that normally form the lining of the mouth and throat. Squamous cell cancer begins as a collection of abnormal squamous cells.

The earliest form of squamous cell cancer is called carcinoma in situ, meaning that the cancer cells are present only in the outer layer of cells called the epithelium. This is different from invasive squamous cell carcinoma, where the cancer cells have grown into deeper layers of the mouth.

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