Floor of the Mouth Cancer

What is Floor of the Mouth Cancer?

Affecting nearly 30,000 Americans annually, oral cancer can appear in various areas of the mouth. As the name implies, floor of the mouth cancer is specific to the area under the tongue. Due to the location of this form of cancer, the lower jaw is also affected. As with any form of cancer, early detection and treatment greatly increases the odds of experiencing a successful recovery.

What are the Symptoms of Floor of the Mouth Cancer?

Tobacco and alcohol use are frequently linked with floor of the mouth cancer. People with human papilloma virus and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) may also be at risk because of a diminished immune system. Similar in appearance to ulcers, this form of oral cancer is usually painless and dismissed as canker sore. Consequently, diagnosis doesn’t often occur until later stages of the disease.

Symptoms include

  • Painful mouth sore that becomes larger
  • Persistent mouth pain
  • Unusual red or white patches in the mouth
  • Pain around teeth
  • Dentures suddenly not fitting right
  • Noticeable growth on the neck

Floor of the Mouth Cancer Causes

There are several causes that can contribute to the development of floor of the mouth cancer. Perhaps the best known of these is the use of tobacco. This form of cancer is linked the use of a number of different types of tobacco.

Smoking is the most common cause, but using chewing tobacco or other forms of tobacco can also cause this disease. In fact, using smokeless tobacco is more of a risk for this cancer than smoking.

In addition, the use of alcohol is known to be a cause. Generally, it is heavy drinking that leads to this cancer type.

People who have a depressed immune system have a higher risk of developing floor of the mouth cancer. Patients who have HPV, who have previous had an organ transplant or who have HIV are more likely to develop this disease. In addition, men are at a higher risk with a three to four times higher risk of this disease than women.

How is Floor of the Mouth Cancer Treated?

Blood tests, X-rays, CT scans, PET (positron emission tomography) scans, and MRIs are part of the diagnosis process. A fine needle aspiration biopsy may be done to test cells to determine if a growth is cancerous.

Treatment includes

When detected early, floor of the mouth cancer is typically treated with radiation or surgery to remove growths from the affected area. In later stages, treatment often involves surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Accounting for approximately 30 percent of all mouth cancers, floor of the mouth cancer significantly affects men more than women. The risk of developing this form of cancer can be significantly reduced by avoiding the use of tobacco products and being mindful of unusual sores or formations within the lower part of the mouth

Floor of the Mouth Cancer Prevention

The bet way to prevent this type of cancer is to not use tobacco products. Quitting smoking or avoiding starting smoking is a good way to prevent it. If you chew tobacco, it’s important to quit. Those who use smokeless tobacco have a high risk of this cancer as well as other oral cancers.

Avoid excessive alcohol use. Keep alcohol consumption to a light to moderate level, or quit drinking it all together, if possible. If you have a condition that decreases your immune system, watch for signs of this cancer type.

Getting treatment quickly for this disease can prevent it from getting larger and spreading to other areas of the body. Watch for lumps or discoloration in the bottom area of the mouth, under the tongue and report any changes to your doctor right away.

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Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
December 22, 2017