Mouth Cancers
Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of oral cancers. More than 7,000 new cases of oropharyngeal cancers are diagnosed each year, many of them in people with only minimal history of tobacco use. These often appear as red or white patches on the membranes of the mouth or small ulcers that look like canker sores, but are painless. The incidence of oral cancer is higher in patients who use both tobacco and alcohol products. Oral cancers usually form on the tongue or floor of the mouth, but can occur on any tissue in and around the mouth. This includes cancers of the tonsils, adenoids, uvula (soft palate), roof of the mouth (hard palate), inside the lining of the cheeks, the gums, teeth, lips, the area behind the wisdom teeth, and within the salivary glands. Some of these lesions may be benign, others may be precancerous, and still others are malignant. The most common type of precancerous cells in the mouth are:

  • Leukoplakias: Leukoplakias consist of thick, white lesions that most commonly form beneath or around the tongue, cheeks or gums. These mouth sores are most often seen in tobacco users.
  • Erythroplakias: These lesions appear as a red, raised area in the mouth and have a higher incidence of becoming malignant than leukoplakias.

A biopsy is often needed to diagnose leukoplakias and erythroplakias and distinguish them from active cancer cells.

Different Types of Oral Cancer:
Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of oral cancer. Less common are lymphoma, and salivery gland mucoepidermoid and adenoid cystic cancers. Most oral cancers occur in people age 45 and older. The tobacco and alcohol related oropharyngeal cancers, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), are seen most commonly at the base-of-tongue and tonsillar areas and are not related to the human papilloma virus (HPV). Two strains of HPV, (HPV-16 and HPV-18), have recently been closely linked to an increased risk of oral cancer in younger people who are non-tobacco or alcohol users. These are the same HPV strains linked to cervical cancer in women. The HPV related SCC patients have a much higher survival rate with early treatment than do the non HPV related oropharyngeal cancer patient. When cancers of the mouth do metastasize, they are most likely to spread to the associated lymph nodes in the neck or skullbase.

Dr. Sciacca currently restricts his oral cancer surgery to excisional lesions of the oral cavity, lips, and anterior or lateral tongue.

For more information about oral cancers

4501 Southlake Pkwy
Suite #200
Hoover, AL 35244