Oral cancer is the term used to denote cancer that occurs in the structures in the oral cavity (mouth). It is a type of head and neck cancer. Oral cancer can start in lining of the lips (usually the lower lip), inside the mouth, on the back of the throat, the tonsils or salivary glands. It is a common type of cancer which occurs more frequently in men than women.
Some common symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Lesion in the mouth: It can be as a swelling/thickening, lump or bump, eroded areas in the mouth on the cheeks, gums, roof of the mouth, tongue, lips or other areas inside the mouth. If any lesion or sores in the mouth lasts for longer than 2 weeks consult your doctor.
- White and Red Patches in the oral cavity: Many people may develop a white or red patch (or combination of the two) inside the mouth or the lips in oral cancer. These patches in the early stages consist of abnormal cells, i.e. they indicate pre-malignant condition. If they are not treated timely and appropriately the changes in the cell can progress and they can become cancerous.
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth: Bleeding from oral cavity can be caused because of many conditions of the oral cavity ranging from simple gingivitis to potentially fatal oral cancer. If you have oral bleeding frequently or if it lasts for more than a few days, consult your dentist and doctor.
- Sore or Blister in Mouth: If you have a sore or blister in the mouth or on the lip that fails to heal in a few days, itmay be indicative of oral cancer. Any sores that last longer than 2 weeks should be examined by a doctor.
- Difficulty Swallowing: It may occur in a person with oral cancer but can be caused by many other conditions. Besides difficulty in swallowing, the person may have difficulty chewing, moving the jaw, speaking, or moving the tongue.
- Lump in the throat: Some people with oral cancer may have a feeling that something (or a lump) is caught in the back of the throat.
- Changes in sensation on the face: Some people with oral cancer may experience unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck.
- Change of voice: If the cancer affects the voice box the person may develop symptoms such as hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice.
- Ear pain: If you have frequent or persistent earaches consult your physician. In most cases an earache is caused because of an infection. But it can be a symptom of oral cancer.
- Loose teeth or change in the way teeth or denture fits: Oral cancer can cause loose teeth or malocclusion (change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together).