Oral Cancer: Treatment

  • Any red or white lesion persisting longer than two weeks warrants referral for biopsy.
  • Any mouth sore that won't heal or bleeds easily; any persistent lump or soreness in the mouth, throat, or tongue; or any difficulty chewing or swallowing warrants further investigation, which includes considering oral cancer as a cause.
  • Treatment of oral squamous cell carcinoma is guided by clinical staging and may involve surgical resection, lymph node dissection, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.
  • Long-term follow-up is advised because of the potential for recurrence or development of additional lesions.

Cancers most commonly develop on the tongue, floor of mouth, and lower lip vermilion. Cancer-prone areas are indicated by yellow dots

AAFP Home Study Program—with permission
AAFP Home Study Program—with permission


Smith RA, Cokkinides V, von Eschenbach AC, Levin B, Cohen C, Runowicz CD, et al. American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer. Ca: a Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2002;52(1):8-22.

www.cdc.gov/OralHealth/oral_cancer/index.htm   Accessed 9/23/18