Types of Oral Cancer

What are the types of Oral cancer?

Every case of Oral Cancer is different, depending on the patient itself, and is treated accordingly. These cancers are oral tumors. There are many malignant oral tumors that can lead up to the stage when they become cancerous, and then there are many benign oral tumors too which can be treated more easily.

1.Squamous Cell Carcinoma

More than 90% of the cancers that occur in the oral cavity are squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cells are fish scale looking thin, flat cells. These cells are found in the tissues that form the skin surface and the lining of hollow body organs, respiratory and digestive tracts. The squamous cell carcinoma begins when some cells are mutated and begin to grow abnormally.

The floor of mouth cancer: The floor of mouth cancer falls under the Head and Neck Cancer category. This type of Oral Cancer begins when the cells that make the floor of the mouth (under the tongue, horseshoe-shaped area) begin to grow abnormally or uncontrollably and start to form lesions or oral tumors. In most cases, these oral tumors are mistaken as Canker sores.

Gum Cancer:

Often mistaken for gingivitis, this type of cancer begins when the cells in the upper or lower gums start to grow abnormally and start to form lesions or oral tumors. People with the habit of regularly chewing Tobacco and drinking excessive Alcohol daily have higher risks of getting this type of cancer.

Hard Palate Cancer:

Hard palate cancer begins when the cells present in the roof of the mouth (the hard part), mutate or start to grow out of control and form oral tumors. The bony part of the mouth’s roof works as a separation between the mouth and the nasal cavity. Cancer tends to spread into the nasal cavity when it becomes more advanced. People who chew Tobacco and drink excessive Alcohol on a regular basis are the ones with higher risk of getting such kind of Oral Cancer.

Inner Cheek Cancer (Buccal Mucosa Cancer)

Inner cheek cancer, or Buccal Mucosa Cancer, begins when the cells of the inner cheeks start to grow abnormally and form oral tumors. Buccal Mucosa in Buccal Mucosa Cancer stands for the inner linings of the cheeks. This type of Oral Cancer occurs in squamous cells that form the inner linings of the cheeks and other parts (and other organs of the body) of the mouth. Chances of getting this kind of Oral Cancer are increased in those who chew Tobacco and drink excessive Alcohol daily.

Lip Cancer

Lip cancer is a type of Oral Cancer that forms or occurs when the cells present in the lips start to have uncontrolled growth to form oral tumors. It is the most common type of Oral Cancer. Lip cancer occurring on the squamous cells is referred to as the squamous cell carcinoma. A more aggressive type of cancer than the squamous cell carcinoma, Melanoma- a type of skin cancer, can also occur on the lips. The people with a habit of chewing Tobacco and drinking too much Alcohol regularly, tend to have higher risks of getting this type of Oral Cancer. People who spend a longer period under the sun also have an increased risk of developing such cancer.

Tongue Cancer

Tongue cancer begins when the cells that form the tongue start to grow without control to form oral tumors. The tongue consists of two parts, the oral tongue and the base of the tongue. Tongue cancer can occur on either part of the tongue. However, cancer occurring on the base of the tongue is classified as throat cancer, and cancer occurring on the part of the tongue which people can stick out is called Oral Cancer.

2.Verrucous Carcinoma

Verrucous Carcinoma takes up around 5% of all oral cancers that occur in the oral cavity. This cancer type is made up of squamous cells, and it is a slow-growing cancer. Due to its slow growth, it does not spread to any other nearby organs or body parts, but it most certainly has an impact on the surrounding cells. This type of cancer often occurs in people who chew Tobacco or use snuff (smokeless tobacco, made from ground Tobacco leaves) orally. It occurs in these people so often that it is usually referred to as “Snuff Dipper’s Cancer.” Chewing betel Nuts can also add to the risks. Symptoms of Verrucous Carcinoma include

It has a slow-growing lesion covered in red, white, or dark leukoplakic patches on the affected area. In verrucous carcinoma, invasive lesions are formed, which can invade bones quickly. This cancer can cause the enlargement of regional lymph nodes. The lesions in this cancer are painful and have multiple rugae-like folds and deep clefts between them. Patients also experience Pain and difficulty when chewing their food.

3.Minor Salivary Gland Carcinomas

Minor salivary gland carcinomas include various kinds of oral cancers, which may develop on the minor salivary glands. There are many kinds of salivary gland cancers as the salivary glands are made up of different kinds of cells. Tumors can start growing in any one of these cells. These salivary gland cancers have names according to the cells they look like the most when looked under the microscope.

Doctors usually assign a grade to these cancers, ranging from 1 to 3, 1 being the lowest and 3 being the highest. These assigned grades give a subtle idea about the rate of the tumor’s growth and spread.

Grade 1 cancers are low-grade cancers or well-differentiated cancers, they look very similar to normal salivary glands, and have slow growth.

Grade 2 cancers are intermediate grade cancers or moderately differentiated cancers; they are generally classified as the appearance and outlook are in between grade 1 and grade 3.

Grade 3 cancers are high-grade cancers or poorly differentiated cancers, they look very different from the regular cells, and they can also spread or grow quickly.

Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma

Mucoepidermoid carcinoma is the most common type of Oral Cancer that occurs in the salivary glands. Most of them start in the Parotid glands. They are less likely to occur in the submandibular glands or minor salivary glands inside the mouth. Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma cancer is normally low-grade cancer, but it can also be an intermediate or high-grade cancer.

Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma

Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma appears to be a slow-growing, low-grade Oral Cancer when looked under the microscope. However, they are hard to get rid of as they tend to spread along the nerves. This kind of cancer tumor tends to come back after treatment, and sometimes they can even come back years later.


Adenocarcinoma describes the cancers which start in gland cells. There are multiple types of Salivary Gland Adenocarcinomas.

Acinic Cell Carcinoma:

It is most likely to start from a parotid gland. They are slow-growing tumors, and they tend to occur at a younger age than other salivary gland cancers. They are mostly low-grade cancers, but the outcome solely depends upon how far cancer has grown into nearby tissue.

Polymorphous Low-Grade adenocarcinoma:

These tumors mostly grow slower, and they mostly have a cure. They start in the minor salivary glands. They are common in the palate.

4. Benign Oral Cavity Tumors

Sometimes, several kinds of non-cancerous tumors called Benign Oral Cavity Tumors can develop in the oral region which may impose tumor-like conditions but are benign in nature. However, to make sure that these tumors do not develop into something cancerous, doctors normally advise to remove them surgically.