Oral Cancer Screening Oral Cancer is divided into two categories – those occurring in the oral cavity (your lips, the inside of your lips and cheeks, teeth, gums, the front two-thirds of your tongue and the floor and roof of your mouth) and those occurring in the oropharynx (middle region of the throat, including the tonsils and base of the tongue). Early detection may result in better treatment outcomes and may help keep you or someone you love Where Can Oral Cancer Appear? The oral cavity includes your lips, cheek lining, gums, front part of your tongue, floor of the mouth beneath the tongue and the hard palate that makes up the roof of your mouth. The throat (pharynx) starts at the soft part of the roof of your mouth and continues back into your throat. It includes the back section of your tongue, as well as the base where the tongue attaches to the floor of your mouth. What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer? It’s important to be aware of the following signs and symptoms and to see your dentist if they do not disappear after two weeks. A sore or irritation that doesn't go away Red or white patches Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth Some people complain of a sore throat, feeling like something is caught in their throat, numbness, hoarseness or a change in voice. If you have any of these symptoms, let your dentist know, especially if you’ve had them for two weeks or more. Prevention and Detection The best way to prevent oral cancer is to avoid tobacco and alcohol use. Regular dental check-ups, including an examination of the entire mouth, are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions. Many types of abnormal cells can develop in the oral cavity in the form of red or white spots. Some are harmless and benign, some are cancerous and others are pre-cancerous, meaning they can develop into cancer if not detected early and removed. Finding and removing epithelial dysplasias before they become cancer can be one of the most effective methods for reducing the incidence of cancer.