Nine signs and symptoms of mouth cancer to watch out for

Find out why it’s important to check for signs of mouth cancer – and nine symptoms to look out for.

November marks National Mouth Cancer Action Month, and this year it’s more important than ever to raise awareness of this cause, as new figures show mouth cancer rates have increased by 58% in the last 10 years. 

Figures from the Oral Health Foundation show that 8,722 people in the UK were diagnosed with mouth cancer last year, which is an increase of 97% since 2000. 

It is crucial that you attend regular dental check-ups to ensure that this disease does not go undiagnosed. Many dental professionals have expressed concern over a lag in screenings as a result of Covid-19, as missing vital appointments or even just general check-ups could lead to missing signs of diseases such as oral cancer. 

Leading dentist and owner of the Simply Teeth Clinic, Sunny Sihra talks about how to spot early signs of mouth cancer.

Nine signs and symptoms of mouth cancer

Mouth cancer can affect most areas of the mouth including the tongue, throat, lips and the salivary glands, larynx, pharynx and sinuses.

Early detection of this disease is crucial and so if you notice any changes or develop the following symptoms then you must visit your doctor or dentist immediately to get it checked out.

Here are nine the main signs and symptoms of mouth cancer to watch for.

1) Unusual sores and lumps

If you notice any unusual or new sores, lumps or swellings located in in or around your mouth and throat, this could be an early sign that something is wrong. Thicker areas of skin and tissue in the mouth is also a symptom.

2) A feeling of something lodged in your throat

If you start to develop a feeling that something is stuck or lodged in your throat, such as a lump which doesn’t get any better then this may also be an early symptom.

3) Increased tenderness

If you start to experience any tenderness or numbness in your mouth or on your tongue that is new or feels unusual then you must get checked out.

4) Difficulty swallowing

Another common early symptom of oral cancer is if you are starting to have difficulty swallowing, it may feel harder to swallow or as if something is in the way. Difficulty moving your tongue or jaw, and issues with chewing, speaking and swallowing are also symptoms.

5) A sore throat

A new and persistent sore throat which gets increasingly worse is also a sign that something is wrong.

6) Loose teeth

Experiencing loose or wobbly teeth can also be a sign of oral cancer, there is usually no dental reasoning behind this and they will just start to become loose and detach from the gum.

7) Ear pain

You may experience ear pain as an early sign, however your hearing will remain normal.

8) Lesions in your mouth

Developing areas of red or white lesions in your mouth or on your lips is common, these may be slightly uncomfortable when you eat or drink.

9) Discomfort with dentures

If you wear dentures, retainers or a mouth guard then you may notice swellings on the gums and mouth tissue which can become uncomfortable when you put in and remove these of a day and night.

What causes mouth cancer?

The exact cause of oral cancer is still unclear however there are a few lifestyle factors that can increase your chance of developing the disease.

Of course, tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars and pipes can increase your risk of oral cancer. You’re eating habits can also increase your risk, a diet that does not include enough fruits and vegetables for example. Most oral cancers occur in people over the age of 40, however it can also affect those under 40 but is less likely.

It is of paramount importance that you visit your dentist regularly to ensure all is well. If you do start to notice any of the above symptoms you must visit your dentist or doctor immediately.

The Simply Teeth Clinic are currently offering free virtual consultations. 

Photo by Joey Nicotra