​Oral Cancer


Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue. Oral cancer appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away. Oral cancer, which includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, and pharynx (throat), can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. According to the literature, men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer as women, and men who are over age 50 face the greatest risk. Risk factors for the development of oral cancer include smoking. Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smokers are six times more likely than non-smokers to develop oral cancers. Smokeless tobacco like users of dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco products are 50 times more likely to develop cancers of the cheek, gums, and lining of the lips. In our country Paan, Chalia and Gutka are main cause of month cancer. Oral cancers are about six times more common in drinkers than in non-drinkers. HPV (Human Papillomavirus) strains are etiologic risk factors for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

It is important to note that oral cancer may occur in people who do not smoke or take Paan, Chalia and Gutka occasionally.

The overall 1 year survival rate for patients with all stages of oral cavity and pharynx cancers is 81%. The 5 and 10 year survival rates are 56% and 41%, respectively.

The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Swellings, thickenings, lumps or bumps, rough spots/crusts or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth.

  • The development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth.

  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth.

  • Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck.

  • Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within two weeks.

  • A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat.

  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.

  • Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice.

  • Ear pain.

  • A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together.

  • Dramatic weight loss.

If you notice any of these changes, contact your doctor immediately

If you notice any of these changes, contact your doctor immediately.

Your doctor will conduct an oral cancer screening exam. More specifically, he will feel for any lumps or irregular tissue changes in your oral cavity and head and neck.  When examining your mouth, your doctor will look for any sores or discoloured tissue as well as check for any signs and symptoms mentioned above.

At The Aga Khan University Hospital, the only internationally accredited hospital of Pakistan, our expert and highly trained staffs at the <Eye and ENT Service Line> can provide you with additional information and medical advice. You can also safely and privately discuss your symptoms, gain advice and receive personalized treatment and care.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Questions about your medical history, including habits whether you smoke, chew tobacco or take alcohol will be asked by doctor. A physical examination of oral cavity and head & neck will be done. These are important for making an initial diagnosis.

Your doctor may recommend an oral biopsy if he or she sees tissue in your mouth that looks suspicious. This procedure may require local anaesthesia and may be performed by your doctor or a specialist. These tests are necessary to detect oral cancer early, before it has had a chance to progress and spread. Your doctor may request CT (Computerized Tomography) or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan to stage the disease.

These tests will help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis and stage the disease. Our internationally trained doctors at the <Eye and ENT Service Line> of The Aga Khan University Hospital, are especially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of ear, nose and throat disorders with the help of state-of-the-art equipment and diagnostic devices. You can be assured of receiving the best services for the management and treatment of your disorder.

Your treatment plan will depend on the location and stage of disease.
Oral cancer is treated the same way many other cancers are treated; with surgery to remove the cancerous growth, followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy (drug treatments) to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

With multidisciplinary medical care under one roof for head and neck cancer at The Aga Khan University Hospital, every case of month cancer is discussed at tumour board and treatment plan is made.
You must discuss all associated risks and life-long treatment options before and after surgery with your doctor.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.




The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.​