The mouth is an important the organ in the human body. In medical terms, the mouth is referred to as the oral cavity. Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer, is the type of cancer which starts at any place in the oral cavity. It is the growth of cancerous tissues within the parts of the oral cavity including the lips, gums, roof of the mouth, floor of the mouth, areas behind the wisdom tooth. Mouth cancer can begin to develop anywhere in the tissues of the oral cavity, or it can happen due to the metastasis from the surrounding organs affected by cancer. It may even begin to grow within some tissues of the mouth.

There are different types of mouth cancers. Almost 90% cases of mouth cancer are of squamous cell carcinomas. The different types of mouth cancers are-

Squamous cell carcinomas-

This type of oral cancer has its origin in the tissues that line the lips and the mouth. Squamous cells are the flat, skin like cells which line the area on the inside of the mouth, larynx, nose and throat. Squamous cell carcinoma is the cancer which starts developing in these cells. There is an atypical type of squamous cell carcinoma known as verrucous carcinoma. Around 1 in 20 mouth cancer cases belong to this category. Verrucous carcinoma seldom spreads to the other parts of the body. However, it can grow very intensely in the surrounding tissues.

Salivary gland cancer-

Salivary glands are the minor glands which are present all through the lining of the mouth. Cancer may develop in these glands. However, in this region, the possibility of the growth of a benign (non- cancerous) tumor is higher.

Adenoid cystic cancer-

This is a rare type of mouth cancer which starts to grow from the glandular tissue. It occurs most commonly in the salivary glands, but can even arise in the mouth. The parotid gland is the commonest place for a cancerous tumor to be found. But only around 20% of the tumors found in the parotid gland are malignant (cancerous).


Melanoma is the type of mouth cancer that develops from the pigment producing cells which give color to the skin. Melanoma can happen anywhere- on the skin or on the inside of the mouth or nose.


Lymphoma is the form of mouth cancer which develops from the cells in the lymph nodes. There are a number of lymph nodes in the neck. The tonsils and the base of the tongue are made up of lymph tissues which can grow into cancer.