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Oral cancer

Squamous cell carcinoma is the major pathologisc type of oral cancer. Adenocarcinomas, sarcomas, and other tumor types also occur. 

The oral cavity is separated into the:

  • tongue, of which the mobile part is the anterior 2/3
  • gums of the upper and lower jaw
  • palate
  • cheek
  • oral vestibule
  • floor of the mouth

Treatment for oral cancer can greatly affect the patient`s speech and swallowing function. The extent of changes will depend on the location and stage of the tumor. In order to reduce the burdens this may cause, thorough information and follow-up is critical.(2).


Oral cavity and pharynx cancer represents 2.9% of all new cancer cases in the United States and is most frequently diagnosed among people aged 55-64. Oral cancer is more common in men than women, among those with a history of tobacco or heavy alcohol use, and individuals infected with human papillomavirus (HPV).

In 2017, it is estimated to be 49,670 new cases of oral cavity and pharynx cancer (13).


Age-specific incidence of oral cancer, 2010–2014.

Source: National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, USA



Incidence of Oral cavity and pharynx, 1975–2014.

Source: National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, USA

Oral cancer made up 32% of the total number of head and neck cancers in Norway in 2005 (1). The incidence is higher in middle and southern Europe and parts of Asia.

The average age of newly diagnosed oral cancer is 64 years, and the disease affects more men than women (2).

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