Oral cancer

Find out more about the causes and symptoms, and the most commonly used diagnostic tests and treatment types for oral cancer types on this page.

Visit our NKI Head and Neck Cancer Center for more information about our specialists, patient satisfaction rates, news, and innovations. 

The following information concerns all cancer types that occur in the oral cavity, not just mouth cancer. Oral cancer may develop on the lips, tongue, bottom of the mouth, cheek lining, or roof of the mouth. Most tumors develop in the outer lining of the mouth; the mucus membrane. These tumors are called squamous cell carcinoma. You may notice a small sore in the mouth that won’t heal, pain that radiates outward from the mouth towards the ears, trouble swallowing that will lead to weight loss and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

Causes and symptoms

Oral cancer is rare. That’s why there are only a few highly specialized centers in the Netherlands that treat this illness. The Netherlands Cancer Institute is one of these centers. Approximately 200 people in the Netherlands are diagnosed with lip cancer and 700 with mouth cancer every year. This tumor type is more common in men than in women and mainly occurs in people over 50 years old.

Factors that may contribute to the development of these tumors are smoking, alcohol use, and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). It is also important to know whether oral cancer runs in your family.


The following diagnostic tests may be done to confirm or rule out oral cancer:

Treatment options

Your exact treatment options will depend on the tumor type and stage. Your overall health and shape will also affect your options. We will inform you about the process beforehand, and you will have plenty of time to ask questions. Your treatment will most likely consist of one or more of the following treatments:

This website uses cookies

We use cookies on our website to improve the user experience.