Cancer of the mouth

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Information for the public about mouth cancer.

The information comprises:

  1. Introduction
  2. Symptoms of mouth and oropharynx cancer
  3. Causes and risk factors of mouth and oropharynx cancer
  4. Diagnosing mouth and oropharyngeal cancer
  5. Staging mouth and oropharyngeal cancer
  6. Before mouth and oropharyngeal cancer treatment
  7. Treating mouth and oropharyngeal cancer


Cancers of the mouth and oropharynx (oar-oh-fah-rinks) are relatively rare. Including cancers of the lip, tongue, mouth and oropharynx, there are about 650 people diagnosed in Scotland  each year.

Overall, about 2 out of every 100 cancers diagnosed in Scotland are mouth or oropharynx cancers.

As with most cancers, mouth and oropharyngeal (oar-oh-fah-rin-jee-al) cancers are more common in older people. There are few cases in people under 50 but the number of young and middle aged people developing them is increasing.

They are twice as common in men than in women, but rates of these cancers in women have been increasing in recent years. This is because women took up smoking in large numbers much later than men and we are now seeing the delayed effects of that.

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