- Patches appearing on the lining of the mouth or tongue, generally red or red and white in color
- Mouth ulcers or sores that are not healing
- Swelling that continues over 3 weeks
- A swelling in the neck
- A lump or thickening seen in the skin or lining of the mouth
- A feeling that something is stuck in the throat
- Pain or difficulty when swallowing or chewing
- Painful tongue
- Having loose teeth for no obvious reason
- Poorly fitting dentures
- Continuous pain in the neck or ear with no relief
- Hoarse voice
- Weight loss
- Bad breath constantly
- Numbness or bleeding in the mouth
Do you know the early signs of oral cancer?
Mouth cancer or oral cancer can appear anywhere in the mouth. This may be found on the surface of the tongue, on the lips, gums, the inner portion of the cheek anywhere inside the mouth or tonsils, and in the salivary glands. Oral cancer usually affects those over the age of 40 and men face double the risk compared to women.
Who are at greater risk?
Tobacco and alcohol users are at a greater risk for contracting oral cancer compared to others. In fact, smokers have a three times greater risk for oral cancer compared to non-smokers. People who smoke and drink alcohol up their risk for oral cancer by 30 times!
Other high-risk factors include UV exposure on the lips, chewing betel nuts and exposure to certain chemicals, especially asbestos, sulfuric acid, and formaldehyde. A diet that’s rich in red meat, processed meat, and fried foods also ups the risk.
Certain diseases and treatments also increase the risk. This includes Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and radiation treatment, or radiotherapy, in the head, neck, or both.
Symptoms of oral cancer
If you spot any of these symptoms, it’s important to visit your doctor and get things clarified.