However, even though oral cancer doesn’t affect a large number of people, it’s important to recognize the warning signs. This knowledge will help you address the issue it if it occurs in your lifetime.
What are the four main warning signs of oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers?
1. Pain or Soreness in the Mouth
Cancer in the mouth presents itself in different ways for many people. While not everyone experiences all the symptoms, one of the most common is pain in the mouth that does not go away. While this sounds uncomfortable, it’s actually helpful, because it tells your body something is wrong and you need to see an oral specialist.
2. Persistent Mouth Sore
This is the most common sign of oral cancer. It’s natural to get sores in your mouth sometimes, but what is not natural is to have one that won’t go away or heal.
Most small sores should go away on their own within one or two weeks. Sometimes large canker sores will take longer. However, if you’ve noticed a sore in your mouth that has been there for longer than six weeks, you should talk with a mouth specialist.
If you are concerned about a sore and it has been less than six weeks, you can still make an appointment to get it checked out. It never hurts to be careful, especially if you notice other unusual symptoms.
3. Bad Breath
Normally, bad breath comes and goes with a change in activities and foods. With oral cancer, however, that’s not the case. If you notice that your breath smells or tastes bad regularly, even after eating mints or brushing well, you may want to see a doctor.
4. Difficult Moving Tongue or Jaw
Another common symptom that people have reported with oral cancer is the swelling of their tongue and jaws.
This symptom affects the mouth in multiple ways. First, you may find that your dentures no longer fit or that your real teeth feel looser.
You also may have difficulty swallowing, chewing and moving the tongue or jaw. You may even notice numbness in the tongue or a lump in the throat.
5. Get Screened for Oral Cancer
If you recognize any or all these symptoms, schedule a visit with an oral surgeon. Cancer is most treatable when caught early. It’s much better to find out you don’t have oral cancer than to wait.
Call our office at Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to schedule a cancer screening and ask our doctors any questions.