The following are the most common symptoms of oral cancer. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- a lip or mouth sore that does not heal
- a white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of mouth
- a lump on the lip or in the mouth or throat
- unusual bleeding, pain, or numbness in the mouth area
- swelling of the jaw
- pain in the ear
- change in voice
- a chronic sore throat
- feeling as if something is caught in the throat
- pain or difficulty in swallowing or chewing
The symptoms of oral cancer may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
What oral conditions may be precancerous?
Two conditions in the mouth - leukoplakia and erythroplakia - actually can be precursors to cancer. Often caused by smoking or chewing tobacco, these (initially) benign conditions can occur anywhere in the mouth. Only a biopsy can determine whether precancerous cells (dysplasia) or cancer cells are present in a leukoplakia or erythroplakia.
- leukoplakia - a condition characterized by a whitish patch that develops inside the mouth or throat.
- erythroplakia - a condition characterized by a red, raised patch that develops inside the mouth.
Treatment for leukoplakias or erythroplakias may include use of retinoids - medications which are related to vitamin A - to eliminate, reduce, and/or prevent dysplasia from forming.