Oral cavity and throat cancer are among the most common head and neck cancers. Most cancers that affect this region of the body develop from thin, flat cells (squamous cells) in the tissues that line the region, so they are often referred to as “squamous cell carcinomas.” Oral cavity and throat cancers are subdivided into four categories, named for the regions of the head and neck in which they grow:
- Oral Cavity – This cancer affects the mouth, including the lips, the inside lining of the lips and cheeks (buccal mucosa), the teeth, most of the tongue, the floor of the mouth and the hard palate.
- Oropharyngeal – This cancer affects the area just behind the mouth at the top of the throat, including the base of the tongue, the soft palate, the tonsils and the side and back wall of the throat.
- Laryngeal – This cancer affects the larynx, or voice box, and is treated differently based on whether it starts in the supraglottis, the glottis, or the subglottis.
- Hypopharyngeal – This cancer affects the area of the throat that lies next to and behind the larynx.
Cancers that form in the oral cavity and oropharyngeal areas have been strongly linked to the use of tobacco products. Pipe smoking poses a greater risk for cancers of the lips, while oral tobacco products like chewing tobacco have been linked with cancers of the cheeks, gums and the inner surface of the lips. Laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers are often strongly linked to tobacco and alcohol use, especially when the two products are combined for a long period of time.
At Moffitt Cancer Center’s Head and Neck Cancer Program, our multispecialty team brings together experts from many disciplines in order to provide a comprehensive program of care for our patients. We offer advanced screening, diagnosis and treatment programs, plus have an ongoing robust clinical trial program, through which we offer even more advanced treatment options that are not available anywhere else in Florida. We’re the only center based in Florida to have been designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, meaning you can trust that the treatment you receive at Moffitt is among the best offered anywhere in the country.