What is oral cancer ?

Oral cancer is a type of head and neck cancer that occurs within various sub-sites of the oral cavity. The sub sites are lips, inner aspect of cheeks, gums, the floor of the mouth, oral tongue, hard palate

Stages of oral cancer ?

The 5 stages of oral cancer can help the patient plan out his treatment accordingly.

Check out the simplest pictures to understand the 5 stages

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Stage 0:known as Carcinoma in-situ. This describes the presence of abnormal cells in the surface lining and having a high potential to invade the deeper layers.

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Stage 1: The size of the tumor is less than or equal to 2 centimeters and the cancer cells did not spread to the lymph nodes.

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Stage 2: The size of the tumor is between 2 and 4 centimeters and the cancer cells did not spread to the lymph nodes.

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Stage 3: The tumor is larger than 4cm and without spreading to lymph nodes, or is of any size and had spread to only a single lymph node(less than 3cm).

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Stage 4: It is the most advanced stage. The tumor may be of any size, but it has spread to:

- Adjacent tissue, skin, or bone

- Single lymph node (more than 3cm) or multiple lymph nodes.

- Distant body parts like lungs etc.

The rate of recurrence is high for the cancers in stage III and IV.

5 Most Common Symptoms Of Oral Cancer

- Pain and discomfort in the mouth

- Difficulty in swallowing

- Difficulty in speaking

- Lump in the neck and ulcers

- Occasional bleeding or numbness in the mouth and lip

Causes and risk factors for oral cancer ?

Consumption of tobacco products and drinking alcohol are the most common causative factors of oral cancer worldwide.

Risk factors include:


It includes smoking tobacco by cigarettes, cigars & pipes and consuming smokeless tobacco by snuffing and chewing.

Tobacco contains more than 19 known carcinogens; the by-products from these carcinogens are the primary mode for development of cancer. Also, the smoke and heat while smoking irritates the mucous membrane of the mouth and results in cancer.

Infection with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

Chronic irritation by dentures, teeth and poor dental hygiene

Diet low in Vegetables, Fruits, vitamins A, C and E

Family history of oral cancer


Excess consumption of Alcohol

The risk of oral cancer for heavy drinkers is 6 times that of non-drinkers. Tobacco smoke and alcohol act synergistically in causing oral cancer.

Prolonged exposure to sunlight

People who are exposed to continuous sunlight are at risk of developing lip cancer.

Chewing Betel quid and areca nut

This is the most common causative factor of oral cancer in South-East Asia.

How Does One Get Oral Cancer

Through excessive alcohol, consumption of tobacco products and smoking. Tobacco is the biggest reason for oral cancer because of the presence of 19 carcinogens in Tobacco products. The carcinogens are the entry for cancer into the body. Chewing of betel quid is the biggest reason for oral cancer in India.

How To Diagnose Oral Cancer

  • - Two ways to diagnose this is through examination of past history of alcohol and tobacco consumption and inspection of all primary and secondary sites of the occurrence of cancer.
  • - A Biopsy based on the results of the symptoms and inspection will be done by an oral cancer surgeon in hyderabad to understand the stages and the actual site of occurrence

Biopsy :

A small amount of suspicious growth in the oral cavity will be sent to a pathologist for microscopic examination. This helps in confirmation of the oral cancer.

Incisional biopsy: In this, a piece of the suspicious lesion is taken without removing it all.

Punch biopsy: This is a type of incisional biopsy using a ‘punch forcep’, which helps in removing a small tissue from the suspected area.

Excisional biopsy: In this technique, the whole area of concern is removed.

Brush biopsy: A few cells off the surface of a suspicious lesion are taken.

Neck Biopsy :

If needed, the lump in the neck is examined by a biopsy.

Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC): This is the most common and easiest way to do biopsy in which a tiny needle is placed into the lump over the neck and some cells are drawn out through a syringe. This will be sent to a pathologist for microscopic examination. If needed, FNAC will be done with USG or CT guidance.

Core biopsy : It is similar to FNAC, but a larger needle is used to remove a core of tissue from the lump.

Open neck biopsy : This is performed by placing an incision over the lump, and either a piece or the entire lump is taken out for the diagnosis.

Imaging :

Evaluation of the extent of oral cancer requires the use of special x-rays like Panorex, CT scans and MRI scans.

Treatment for oral cancer ?

Oral cancer can be treated for good through the mainstream ways of treatment like Surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and molecular targeted therapy, either alone or in combination.

The above treatment methods are purely based on site, size, location, stage of the oral cancer and also differs from patient to patient. All these treatments will be done by an oral cancer surgeon in hyderabad

Preventing oral cancer ?

1. Smoking and Consumption of Tobacco has to stop permanently

2. Alcohol consumption has to be in limited levels

3. A balanced diet with fruits, veggies, and Vitamins A, C,and E

4. Improved dental habits and a regular follow up after treating cancers can keep it from returning.


When cancer is observed inside of the mouth, it is known as oral cancer or an oral cavity. There are various types of mouth cancers that are grouped as Head and neck cancers. Dr. Rahul Buggaveeti is one of the few experts in India who can handle oral cancer treatments with high precision for the best results
Yes. If left untreated, like any other cancer, Oral can cancer can be life-threatening. Usually Oral cancer includes cancers on the hard and soft palate, cheeks, floor of the mouth, lips, sinus, and throat. If you observe any symptoms, reach us out so that our expert Dr. Rahul Buggaveeti can help you get it treated with proper diagnosis and procedures
A dentist can only observe the symptoms or pre-cancers of the mouth but, to come to a conclusion about the severity of oral cancer, you must see a head and neck cancer specialist like Dr. Rahul Buggaveeti and follow the proper diagnosis procedure
Oral cancers usually take quite a long time to develop. In most cases, it is diagnosed for patients above 50 years of age but, it is always good to prevent it or at least address it at an early stage which is possible through diagnosis. Every adult over 20 years should get an oral screening at least once in 3 years
Oral cancers, if left untreated, can be life-threatening. It will lead to extreme difficulty and pain in consuming the food while swallowing, chewing, or biting depending on the location of the cancer cells.



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