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What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

Man with expresion of pain holding his cheek
Tell your doctor or dentist right away about any ongoing problems you have in your mouth or throat.

Many oral cancers are found because a person notices unusual changes in his or her own mouth. You, too, can check your mouth for early signs of oral cancer. All you need to do is open your mouth and look into a mirror. Here’s a list of symptoms to check for:

  • A sore on your lip or in your mouth that will not heal

  • A lump on your lip, in your mouth, or in your throat

  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of your mouth

  • Unusual bleeding, pain, or numbness in your mouth

  • A sore throat that doesn’t go away

  • A feeling of something caught in your throat

  • Difficulty or pain when you chew or swallow

  • Swelling around your jaw

  • Loose or painful teeth

  • A lump, swelling, or mass in your neck that doesn’t go away

  • Weight loss that is unexpected

  • A change in your voice

  • A pain in your ear

If you notice any of these problems, see your doctor or dentist right away. Many of these symptoms can be caused by something other than oral cancer, often something less serious. But if it does turn out to be oral cancer, treatment is more successful when the cancer is caught early on. Check with your doctor or dentist to be sure.


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