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.