Oral cancer is a byproduct of genetic mutations within the cells of the mouth, lips, gums, tongue, cheek lining, roof or floor of the mouth, palate, throat, or sinuses, and can range in severity. An early diagnosis for many of the above oral cancers can save your life. There are a variety of symptoms. It's essential to learn the many ways oral cancer can appear in your mouth and surrounding areas.
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
While there are several symptoms of oral cancer, some are more common than others. If you display any of the following symptoms, call us as soon as possible:
Lumps or changes in texture
Swelling, lumps, rough spots, thickened areas on the lips, cheek lining, tongue, and gums. These may also appear in other regions of the mouth. They are among the most common signs of oral cancer. While dryness and irritation may be due to other causes, like dehydration, poor hygiene, certain foods, or mild allergies, these often resolve quickly or with over-the-counter medications. If the disturbed areas do not heal or go away on their own within a few days, see a dentist or physician. Cancers do not heal themselves over time without treatment. The symptoms will not pass by in a few days.
Another common symptom of oral cancer is the development of velvety, white, and red speckled patches in the mouth. Much like other textural changes, these patches do not resolve on their own quickly.
Sores may develop in the affected area. They may be incredibly sensitive and prone to bleeding. These sores are not to be confused with canker or cold sores. They will not heal within the typical range for such sores (normally about two weeks).
In coordination with lumps, sores, patches, or swelling, you may experience unexplained bleeding in the affected areas or elsewhere in the mouth.
Differences in sensation
Any numbness, tenderness, or unexplained pain in the face or oral areas can be a sign of oral cancer. Another symptom of oral cancer in the throat is pain in swallowing. This pain is not associated with common throat infections like strep or the common cold.
Difficulty chewing, swallowing, talking, or moving your jaw and tongue freely can indicate oral cancer. Cancers mutate, propagate, and kill cells, and oral cancer can affect your ability to use your mouth for its intended purpose.
Changes in your bite
Due to the changes caused in the structures of your mouth and jaw, you may find that your teeth do not fit together as well as they may have before. The positioning of your teeth will likely shift to compensate for any growths developing within your mouth.
Changes in the gums, jaw and other components of the oral cavity can cause the loosening of your teeth. In most cases, this symptom is prompted by the death of cells in the structures that hold your teeth in place.
Changes in your voice
Your voice may be a symptom of oral cancer as well. If you notice your voice has changed dramatically, is cracking regularly, or if you consistently find yourself in pain while talking, you may be showing early signs of the development of cancer in the mouth or throat.
Pain in the ear, throat, or mouth
While painful swallowing, talking, and other oral pain is an expected signs of oral cancer, pain in the ear can be an indicator as well. When ear pain radiates down and into the jaw and cheeks or is accompanied by ringing or fullness within the ear, it may be a symptom of oral cancer.
In general, making healthy decisions for yourself can help you avoid the development of oral cancer. Avoid smoking, smokeless tobacco, and consuming large quantities of alcohol, and practice good oral hygiene to give your mouth the ideal conditions it needs to thrive cancer-free. Attend regularly scheduled visits with your dentist to maintain oral hygiene and monitor any potential changes in your mouth.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, contact our office and schedule a Free Consultation appointment * as soon as possible to assess your risk of oral cancer.
*x-rays not included