Oral Cancer

Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute delivers a level of cancer care that’s on par with the nation’s leading programs. You receive cancer treatments and helpful therapies close to home – even for rare cancers such as oral cancer (mouth cancer).

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
  • Gums
  • Inside of the cheek
  • Lips
  • Top part of the mouth
  • Tongue
  • Tonsils

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.

World-class care

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.

Team approach

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:

Radiation therapy

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.

Robotic surgery

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:

Nutrition therapy

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.  

Speech therapy

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.

Tobacco treatment

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.


Get a second opinion

Receive personalized recommendations from our team of cancer experts in a single visit.

Learn more

Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance member

Our membership in the MSK Cancer Alliance brings you world-class care close to home.

Read more