Oral cancer goes by many names, such as lip cancer, mouth cancer and gum cancer. Oral cancer is cancer that occurs in and around the mouth, or oral cavity. Smoking and the use of chewing tobacco greatly increase the risk of developing oral cancer, and most dentists will check for signs of oral cancer at each dental check up.
It is helpful to know the signs and symptoms of oral cancer, so that if you experience any of them you can seek the opinion of a doctor as soon as possible. Here are some signs and symptoms that might point to oral cancer:
Swelling, Lumps and Bumps — Any swelling, lumps or bumps inside the mouth, on the lips or on the tongue or gum area might be a sign of oral cancer. Also, crusty spots, rough spots or spots that are eroded in the mouth or on the gums or lips should be checked out as soon as possible.
Unusual Bleeding — If you are having unexplained bleeding in your mouth or on your lips, see a doctor or a dentist. Bleeding may indicate gum disease, but it is also a sign of oral cancer.
Numbness, Pain or Tenderness — If you have any unexplained numbness, or loss of feeling, in your mouth, on your face or on your neck, see a doctor. Also, if you are having pain and tenderness in your mouth or on your face or neck, and there is no explanation for the pain, you need to make an appointment with your doctor or dentist.
Sores in the Mouth — Sores in the mouth or on the lips or face that do not go away over a two week period of time may be a sign of oral cancer and should be looked into immediately.
Chronic Sore Throat — If you have a persistent sore throat, a change in your voice or hoarseness that lasts, you need to see a doctor. There are many things that can cause these symptoms, oral cancer being among them.
Difficulty Chewing or Swallowing — If you are having a hard time chewing, swallowing or speaking, you need to visit your physician. Also, make an appointment if you are having problems moving your tongue or your jaw.
Ear Pain — Pain in your ears can indicate problems in your mouth, including oral cancer.
Change in Your Bite- If it feels as if your teeth are not fitting together the way that they once did, or if you are a denture wearer and your dentures are no longer fitting properly, you need to see your dentist, as these may be signs of oral cancer.
For each sign or symptom of oral cancer, there are numerous possible causes. Infections, gum inflammation, TMJ and herpes type 2 are just a few of the other possibilities. However, fear of an oral cancer diagnosis should not cause you to explain away signs and symptoms of oral cancer. As with all types of cancer, the earlier that oral cancer is found and treatment begun, the better the outcome, so make that appointment sooner rather than later.
“Oral Cancer,” Cleveland Clinic.