Appearance of Squamous Cell Carcinoma


Once a cancer has invaded underlying connective tissues it is considered “invasive.” While there is no standard appearance of invasive oral cancer, it is common to describe it as a painless ulcer. Upon palpation, the lesion is firm and fixed to the surrounding tissues — a property known as “induration.” Sometimes the lesions are raised above the surface appearing as smooth or papillary or warty projections. Sometimes the lesions are small soft ulcers. There may be enlarged nearby lymph nodes, a finding called “lymphadenopathy.” Such enlarged lymph nodes are firm and painless and indicate that the cancer has spread from its site of origin.


This means “red patch”. A red patch in the oral cavity is worrisome and needs to be addressed within two weeks. While some red patches may be trauma related, others may represent premalignant disease (dysplasia) or even squamous cell carcinoma.


This means “white patch”. A white patch that can not be rubbed off is likely either hyperkeratosis, dysplasia, or squamous cell carcinoma.