Symptoms of oral cancer
Oral cancer often causes symptoms at an early stage. Other health conditions can cause the same symptoms as oral cancer.
The most common symptom of oral cancer is an ulcer or sore in the mouth or on the lip that doesn’t heal. Another common symptom of oral cancer is pain in the mouth that doesn’t go away. Other signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:
- white patches (leukoplakia), red patches (erythroplakia) or mixed red and white patches (erythroleukoplakia) on the lips or in the mouth
- a lump or growth on the lips, in the mouth or on the tongue
- thickening of the inner cheek lining (the buccal mucosa)
- bleeding in the mouth
- earache that doesn’t go away
- loose teeth
- dentures that no longer fit
- slurred speech
- swollen salivary glands
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck (called cervical lymph nodes)
- numbness or loss of sensation over the tongue or lips
- swelling of the jaw
- voice changes
- pain when swallowing
- weight loss
American Cancer Society. Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer. 2016.
American Society of Clinical Oncology. Oral and Oropharyngeal cancer. 2016: http://www.cancer.net/.
Cancer Research UK. The Mouth and Oropharynx. Cancer Research UK; 2016.
Koch WM, Stafford E, Chung C, Quon H . Cancer of the oral cavity. Harrison LB, Sessions RB, Kies MS. Head and Neck Cancer: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014: 16A:335-356.
National Cancer Institute. Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer Treatment (PDQ®). 2016.