Recurrent minor aphthous ulcers or canker sores:
Which is the right term?
Are aphthous ulcers and canker sores the same things?
Yes, canker sores are a type of aphthous ulcer.
However, in the most specific of terms, only "recurrent minor aphthous ulcer" and "recurrent minor aphthous stomatitis" should be considered to be universally interchangeable with the term "canker sore," as we characterize these ulcers on our pages.
Where do the terms "aphthous" and "canker" come from?
The term "aphthous" is a derivative of the Greek word "aphtha" which means ulceration. The term "canker" is a derivative of the Latin word "cancer." But don't be confused, aphthous ulcers are not a type of cancer.
What do the terms "minor," "recurrent" and "stomatitis" refer to?
The synonymous terms for canker sores given above include the words "minor," "recurrent" and "stomatitis."
The word "minor" is used to refer to the generally small size of canker sore lesions (as opposed to "major aphthae," a larger form of aphthous ulcer often measuring in excess of 1/2 inch in diameter).
The word "recurrent" is used so to indicate the common recurring nature of canker sore outbreaks. The word "stomatitis" means an inflammation of oral tissues.
Don't confuse canker sores with other similarly named maladies.
People sometimes confuse aphthous ulcers with other types of lesions that have names that sound similar to the word "canker."
Probably the most common confusion involves "chancre" sores. Chancre sores are a type of lesion associated with the disease syphilis. And they are not associated with or related to aphthous ulcers.
The terms "cankor" and "kankor" seem to be common misspellings of the word "canker" and thus should typically be considered to be a reference to aphthous ulcers.
We would have assumed that the term "kanker sore" should also be categorized as a misspelling, and therefore yet another term for an aphthous ulcer. To our surprise, a quick search of the web demonstrated that the term "kanker sore" most commonly refers to the title of a song by a rock band. Hmmm...? Yuck!