Oral cancer

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If oral cancer spreads

Cancer cells can spread from the mouth to other parts of the body. This spread is called metastasis.

Understanding how a type of cancer usually grows and spreads helps your healthcare team plan your treatment and future care. Oral cancer can spread differently depending on where in the mouth it starts. If oral cancer spreads, it can spread to the following:

  • other parts of the mouth
  • muscle surrounding the mouth
  • lymph nodes in the neck (called cervical lymph nodes)
  • bone surrounding the mouth (the upper or lower jawbone)
  • skin on the face
  • salivary glands
  • liver
  • lung
  • distant bone, such as the base of the skull or the spine
  • brain

Stories

A teenaged girl sitting on her bed I was in total shock when I heard the diagnosis of cancer. Cancer to me was an adult’s disease. Being a 13-year-old teenager, it certainly wasn’t even on my radar.

Read Sabrina's story

Making progress in the cancer fight

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The 5-year cancer survival rate has increased from 25% in the 1940s to 60% today.

Learn more