Oral cancer happens when cells start growing out of control, forming a mass (tumor). Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute offers hope for healing using the latest treatments and special therapies to help you live a good quality of life.
Risk factors for oral cancer
Both alcohol use and tobacco use (smoking tobacco products, such as cigarettes and cigars, as well as smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco or "snuff") are proven to influence the development of oral cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that human papillomavirus (HPV) infection also is a risk factor for the development of head and neck cancers, particularly cancers of the tonsils and base of the tongue.
Other risk factors include:
- Poor oral health
- Exposure to wood dust and other industrial fibers
- Radiation exposure
- Epstein-Barr virus infection
Symptoms of oral cancer
Oral cancer can form anywhere in the mouth, including the:
- Bottom part of the mouth
- Inside of the cheek
- Top part of the mouth
Symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Difficulty moving your jaw or swallowing
- Sores or patches of abnormal tissue that do not heal
- Numbness or discomfort near your mouth
- Changes in the positioning of your teeth
- A hoarse voice that doesn’t go away
- Unexplained bleeding
- Lumps inside the mouth or on your neck
- Ongoing ear pain
Exceptional oral cancer care at Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute
Highlights of our program include:
The Cancer Institute is home to the region’s only head and neck cancer surgeon with expertise in microvascular techniques. This expertise allows us to repair mouth structures after removing cancer, so you look and feel more like your old self. Meet our cancer team.
We are the region’s only member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance. Consulting with MSK’s world-renowned experts, we help you get the best care for complex forms of mouth cancer. This level of expertise may preserve your ability to speak or swallow. Read more about our membership in the MSK Cancer Alliance.
Ear, nose and throat doctors (otolaryngologists), radiation oncologists and medical oncologists come together to develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Get more information about our multidisciplinary cancer clinics.
Treatments for oral cancer
We offer all the latest treatments, including:
We use beams of energy to break up cancer cells. You have access to all the latest options, including intensity modulated radiation therapy. This technique directs energy beams to match the precise shape of the tumor, so you experience fewer side effects. Learn more about radiation therapy.
You receive one or more cancer drugs. We recommend the options that are best for your unique needs and tailor doses to help you achieve excellent results. Get more information about chemotherapy.
With robotic surgery, we remove cancer tissue using robotic “arms” which offer a high degree of precision. This technique decreases your risk of complications and helps you recover faster. Find out more about robotic surgery.
Additional therapies for oral cancer
Additional therapies for oral cancer include:
Oral cancer or cancer treatments can make it difficult to eat. We offer therapies, including personalized nutrition plans, to help you get the nutrition you need. Read more about cancer nutrition services.
If you are having difficulty swallowing, our speech therapists pinpoint the source of the problem and deliver therapies to help you overcome it. Get more information about speech therapy.
If you use tobacco, quitting increases your chances of becoming cancer free. Our services include in-person counseling and support by phone. Read more about our tobacco treatment program.