The oral cavity is a frequent site of head and neck cancer. The population most commonly afflicted with cancer of the oral cavity is older adults. Tobacco and alcohol are often implicated as associated preventable factors for oral cavity cancer--when used in combination their effects are synergistic. Malignant lesions may present as a persistent ulceration, mass, or red or white irritations in the oral cavity. They tend to be painful and cause difficulty with chewing. It is not uncommon for patients to complain of a neck mass. Investigation of suspicious lesions mandates a biopsy. Diagnostic imaging involving CT and MRI are important components of staging the primary tumour, and determining the extent of loco-regional and distant metastases. The treatment of early cancers is primarily surgical, while the treatment of advanced disease involves a multimodal approach incorporating a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. However, the situation of each patient is unique, especially in the older adult, and other factors such as comorbidities often dictate the specific treatment approach.
Key Words: oral cancer, head and neck cancer, cancer in the older adult, oral malignancies.
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