Gum Cancer

What is gum cancer?

Gum cancer is a type of oral cancer that begins when cancer cells grow out of control on the gums. It is also sometimes referred to as Gingival Cancer. Gum cancer is pretty rare, but if found in the early stages it is easily treatable. Symptoms often look like those of less severe medical conditions which often lead a patient to neglect treatment until the cancer has spread to other areas. If left untreated gum cancer becomes much more deadly and can spread to other areas of the mouth, neck and body.

gum cancer

Squamous cell carcinomatous lesion on the gum from CDC/ Sol Silverman, Jr., DDS

Who is most at risk for gum cancer?

  • Men are two times more likely to develop gum cancer (and other types of oral cancer) as compared to women
  • The older a person gets the more likely he or she is to develop gum cancer. The average diagnosis occurs after the age of 60.
  • Individuals who smoke, dip, or chew tobacco or are heavy drinkers are at a very higher risk for gum cancer. Those who use tobacco and drink are at an even higher risk.

Visit our page on Causes of Gum Cancer for more detailed information on its risk factors.

What are the statistics for gum cancer?

Because gum cancer is very rare, the American Cancer Society and other reputable organizations do not have exact statistics. However, in their most recent statistics on oral cancer the American Cancer Society does include gum cancer under the “other oral cavity” category. This category includes all other areas of the oral cavity not including the tongue, mouth and pharynx (which are the three most common locations for oral cancers). The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2012 there will be a total of 40,250 cases of oral cancer and only about 4% of those (1,680) will be in places (like the gums) that are not part of the tongue, mouth, or pharynx. About 1,680 of those cases will be in men and about 670 will be in females.

What is my chance of surviving gum cancer?

The five year survival rates for Stage I are 81%, 62% for Stage II, 45% for Stage III, and 40% for Stage IV. These numbers represent the percentage of people that are still living five years after their diagnosis of gum cancer. While each person’s case is different and the factors that affect survival vary for each person, these numbers show what the outcome was for a large number of people.

What is my chance of dying from gum cancer?

It is estimated that 7,850 people will die from oral cancer this year and about 21% (1,680) of those deaths will come from areas of the mouth like the gums. This statistic shows the importance of catching the disease early. Even though only 4% of all oral cancer diagnoses fall into the “other oral cavity” category they account for 21% of all oral cancer deaths. If you are at risk for gum cancer it is very important that you are familiar with the common oral cancer symptoms. If you exhibit any gum cancer symptoms they should be looked at and treated by a doctor as soon as possible. Visit the links below for more information on some of the symptoms and treatment options.

Gum Cancer Symptoms

Gum Cancer Treatment

Want to see more images of gum cancer?

Visit our Gum Cancer Pictures page.

Want more information on gum cancer?

See our Gum Cancer Resources page for additional links.


Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer. American Cancer Society. Accessed January 4, 2012.


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    All content on this site is for general information purposes only. It is not and should not be considered medical advice or used in place of the advice of a medical professional. Always seek the advice of a doctor or other professional for any medical condition.