Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Mouth Cancer Anatomy

To better understand mouth cancer, it helps to understand the anatomy of the mouth and throat.

The back of throat is also referred to as the pharynx. More specifically, the pharynx is the back, upper part of the throat behind the tongue. It starts at the base of the tongue and ends at the larynx.

Anatomy examples:

  • Normal pharynx in an adult
  • Normal pharynx in a child
  • Normal tongue

The tonsils are collections of lymphoid tissue in the back of the throat. They are located on both sides of the throat, near the base of the tongue. The tonsils generally shrink over time. At puberty, the tonsils are normally about the size of an almond.

Anatomy examples:
  • Normal anatomy of the pharynx
  • Normal tonsils in a child

Last Updated: Mar 26, 2009 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Mouth Cancer References
  1. Casiglia J, Woo SB. A comprehensive review of oral cancer. Gen Dent. 2001 Jan-Feb;49(1):72-82. [12004680]
  2. Kujan O, Glenny AM, Duxbury J, Thakker N, Sloan P. Evaluation of screening strategies for improving oral cancer mortality: a Cochrane systematic review. J Dent Educ. 2005 Feb;69(2):255-65. [15689610]
  3. Moore SR, Johnson NW, Pierce AM, Wilson DF. The epidemiology of mouth cancer: a review of global incidence. Oral Dis. 2000 Mar;6(2):65-74. [10702782]
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