Oral cancers can involve the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, and hard palate. The hard palate is the bony part of the roof of a mouth that separates the mouth from the nasal cavity. Lip cancer is the most common cancer of the mouth, most likely due to UV radiation from sun exposure.
More than 90 percent of oral cancers start in squamous cells. Squamous cells are thin, flat, skin like cells covering most of the surfaces inside the mouth. When mutations occur in the DNA of these cells, the cells grow and multiply out of control.