Oral Cancer 101 – The Stages, Prevention, and Treatment Methods

April 7, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — puredentalspa @ 10:26 pm
Oral cancer ribbon

When you see your dentist every six months for regular cleanings and checkups, your dentist is looking for much more than just cavities and gum disease. They are keeping their eye out for a variety of abnormalities that could mean that something in your mouth or elsewhere in the body isn’t quite right. One of the things that is always a concern is oral cancer. Continue reading to learn about the different stages, prevention methods, and how it’s treated.

The Stages of Oral Cancer

Stage 0

Stage 0, also known as carcinoma in situ, is the very beginning of the oral cancer scale. This consists of abnormal cells in the lining of the lips or oral cavity, which have the potential to become cancerous.

Stage I

This is a very early stage of cancer. At this point, the tumor is no more than 2 centimeters, and the cancer has not yet reached the lymph nodes.

Stage II

Stage II describes a tumor that is larger than 2 centimeters, but no more than 4 centimeters. At this point, the cancer has still not reached the lymph nodes.

Stage III

This stage describes cancer that is either larger than 4 centimeters or has already spread to a lymph node in the neck.

Stage IV

This is the most advanced stage of mouth cancer. While it can be any size, at this point it has spread to nearby tissue, like the jaw or another part of the oral cavity, the lymph nodes, or a distant part of the body beyond the mouth.

How to Prevent Oral Cancer

Here are few steps that you can take to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer in the first place:

  • Don’t use tobacco products
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Practice excellent dental hygiene
  • Only drink alcohol in moderation
  • Limit sun exposure
  • Use a lip balm containing SPF
  • Remove dentures every night and clean them daily.

How Is Oral Cancer Treated?

Treatment for oral cancer will depend on the type, locations, and stage. Here are some common treatment methods that have proven effective in the past:


Early-stage oral cancer can often be treated using surgery to remove the tumor or cancerous lymph nodes. Other tissue around the mouth and neck may also be taken out.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy involves a doctor consecutively aiming radiation beams at a tumor. For advanced stages, this is usually combined with chemotherapy.


This is a treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells. It can be administered orally or intravenously.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy drugs bind to specific proteins on cancer cells and interfere with their growth. This can be effective in both early and advanced stages of oral cancer.

Oral cancer can be very serious, but it is often preventable and treatable when caught in its early stages. In addition to using the preventive tips listed above, don’t forget to schedule your next oral cancer screening with your dentist. Early detection is key for a full recovery!

About the Practice

At Pure Dental Spa, we have a team of five skilled dentists, including general dentists, an orthodontist, and a Board-Certified Oral Surgeon. With their combined expertise, patients can pretty much get anything they need under one roof! To learn more about oral cancer screenings or to schedule your next screening, visit our website or call (630) 307-3133.

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