A healthy oral care routine includes looking out for unusual bumps and persistent pains in and around the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat. Though the probability of being diagnosed with oral cancer is low, identifying the early signs of mouth cancer can increase your chances of successful treatment.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that 53,260 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer in 2020. That's less than 0.02 percent of the population. And of those diagnosed, five-year relative survival rates vary between 52 - 90 percent depending on the location of cancer in the mouth.
Recognize the early warning signs of oral cancer and understand what activities put you at higher risk so that you can be prepared to act quickly if the need arises.
What Are The Early Signs and Symptoms of Mouth Cancer?
Mouth cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth, including the lips, tongue, and throat, as well as the salivary glands, pharynx, larynx, and sinuses. From burning your mouth on that too-hot piece of pizza to accidentally biting your tongue, your oral cavity can undergo a lot of wear and tear. However, these kinds of trauma should usually heal within 7 to 14 days. Because early detection is crucial in overcoming this disease, you'll want to visit your dentist immediately if any of the following symptoms persist for more than two weeks.
- Sores, swellings, lumps, or thick patches anywhere in or around your mouth or throat
- Areas of red and white lesions in your mouth or lips
- The feeling of a lump or distraction stuck in your throat
- Swelling that makes wearing dentures uncomfortable
- Numbness, pain, or tenderness anywhere in your mouth, including your tongue
- Pain in your ears without any loss of hearing
- Trouble moving your jaw or tongue and difficulty swallowing or speaking
- Loose teeth with no apparent dental cause
- Lingering sore throat or hoarseness