Symptoms of Mouth Cancer
A white or red patch inside the mouth – Sores that won’t heal – A lump in the cheek, gum, or tongue – Difficulty chewing or swallowing – A sore throat or ongoing earache – Change in a wart or mole.
The symptoms of mouth cancer may be caused by other health conditions that do not need to be cancers. It is also true that one sign might suggest a less severe disease while another means a more serious one.
However, suppose you have any persistent and troublesome signs. In that case, it is always best to seek expert advice from your doctor, as early diagnosis and treatment are essential for obtaining the best outcome.
Symptoms of mouth cancer may include:
White or red patch inside the mouth
A white or red patch inside the mouth (at any site in the mouth) that does not heal within two to three weeks.
Sores that won’t heal:
Persistent sores, ulcers, or blisters anywhere in the mouth do not heal within two to three weeks. There may be associated pain, discomfort, and difficulty eating/drinking. Ulcers on the lower lip are more likely to be caused by a condition other than cancer (e.g., an aphthous ulcer).
However, they can also occur as part of oral cancer, mainly if located towards the back of the lip. Sores on the roof of your mouth (i.e., on the hard palate) or under your tongue may be more likely to be due to cancer.
Dry mouth and difficulty chewing/swallowing:
Mouth cancer can cause problems with salivary (spit) production, which in some cases results in a dry mouth and difficulty chewing and swallowing. Some cancers can affect glands that produce saliva and other substances that help protect against mouth infections.
People who have advanced cancer may not notice this problem as they are focused on finding ways to eat without pain. However, it could also be one of the first signs of developing the disease if you are at high risk for oral cancer (e.g., previous radiation therapy).
Oral cancer can sometimes cause changes to wart-like growths or moles in the mouth, which become thickened or crusted, bleed when removed, or do not heal.
Lumps in the cheek, gum, or tongue:
A lump in the cheek (buccal area), jaw bone (gingiva), or tongue may indicate disease within the maxillary sinus (the space behind one of your cheeks). This is more likely to occur with HPV-positive cancer than HPV-negative oral cancer. The possibilities are discussed further in Signs of Mouth Cancer.
Coughing up blood:
The later stages of oral cancers that grow into major blood vessels can cause increased bleeding from the nose and mouth (e.g., coughing up small amounts of blood from the mouth or nose). This is usually a sign that cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Unexplained weight loss:
Changes in your mouth and throat may cause you to lose your appetite, leading to unexplained weight loss. This can be a symptom of oral cancer, particularly in later stages. A less likely possibility is that early cancers may have initially grown slowly or been present for a long time before being discovered, as they may not cause problems until more advanced stages. In this case, your doctor will probably suggest an endoscopy as part of the assessment process.
Gum cancer symptoms:
The symptoms of gum cancer can range from no signs at all to bleeding and soreness. Some people report having bone pain, which is often caused by the tumor growing into or near a nerve.
what causes gum disease:
Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (permanent inflammation and infection of the gums) are common in adults over 35 years old. Still, teens or even younger children can have serious causes of these conditions.
Gum disease is also fairly common in newborns. For some reason, infants are more likely to have bacteria in their mouths than adolescents or adults are. Bacteria from the mother do not sterilize their hands or those whose partner still smokes.
Early-stage mouth cancer symptoms:
The symptoms of early-stage mouth cancer depend on the location and size of the tumor. Some possible symptoms include:
1. Sores on your lip, palate (roof of your mouth), or tongue
2. White or red patches in your mouth
3. A thick coating on your tongue that won’t go away
4. Numbness or pain in any area of your lower lip, tongue, cheek, throat, or chin
5. Difficulty moving teeth
6. Loose teeth
7. Swollen gums
8. Unusual bleeding
9. (when it occurs) persistent earache
10. (more familiar with other medical conditions) fever
11. (more often with other medical conditions) painful swelling in one leg
12. (more familiar with other medical conditions) weight loss
13. Loss of appetite
14. Difficulty swallowing
15. (more familiar with other medical conditions) arthritis
17. Red rash on your lower legs, ankles, face, or trunk
18. (rare) hearing problems
19. (rare) numbness in the arms or hands
Mouth cancer causes:
Some factors that increase your risk of mouth cancer include:
1. Frequent consumption of cigars or pipes
4. Tobacco use
5. Radiation exposure
7. (rare) chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
8. (rare) severe hypothyroidism
9. (extremely rare) severe diabetes
10. (more familiar with other medical conditions) leukemia
11. (more familiar with other medical conditions) sarcoidosis
12. (more familiar with other medical conditions) tuberculosis
13. Cancers in the head, neck, lungs, breasts, prostate gland, skin
14. Certain inherited genetic disorders.
Mouth cancer lump:
Your dentist or doctor will look for any signs of abnormal growth on your gums and tongue to check for cancer. They’ll inspect the lymph nodes, as well. If they find a suspicious lump or lesion anywhere in your mouth, you must see a doctor right away to determine if it’s cancerous.
Mouth cancer treatment:
There is no cure for mouth cancer, and some tumor types may be resistant to radiation therapy. So the first line of defense against the disease is early detection and potential prevention through practicing good oral hygiene habits. Treatment can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapies aimed at specific molecular targets inside the cell.
In addition to any treatments needed to reduce pain from cancer itself, you may also undergo treatment to strengthen your jaws, such as a dental implant or bone graft. This type of procedure aims to maintain the strength and function of the jaw after part of it has been removed.
Mouth cancer survival rate:
In general, when faced with a cancer diagnosis [like mouth cancer], you most likely want to know how long you have left to live so that you can plan for essential things in your life like closing out bank accounts and making arrangements for loved ones one’s ones if necessary.
But with most cancers, doctors cannot give an exact prognosis. Every patient is different, and cancer itself is constantly evolving. To ensure that they give patients the best information possible about their diagnoses, doctors often quote a range of possible outcomes, from those who will not make it to those whose prognosis is excellent.
In the case of mouth cancer, if diagnosed early through regular dental exams or self-examination, most patients can be expected to live for five years or more after diagnosis. If undiagnosed until later stages — because symptoms were ignored — many fewer than that will survive even one year.