Symptoms of oral cancer vary from person to person. But since early detection is important for successful treatment of oral cancer, see your doctor or dentist if you notice abnormal areas in your mouth. These may include the following:
Leukoplakia (literally a “white patch”) is a persistent white area or spot in the oral cavity. About 25% of leukoplakias are cancerous or precancerous.
Erythroplakia (red patch) is a persistent red, raised area or spot in the oral cavity that bleeds if scraped. About 70% of erythroplakias are cancerous or precancerous. Erythroplakia often arises out of an area of leukoplakia, so a mixed red and white appearance is common.
Other potential signs of oral cancer include:
- A sore in the mouth that doesn't heal
- Unexpected loose teeth
- A lump in the neck
- A mass or thickening in the face, jaw, cheek, tongue or gums
- A persistent sore or mass in the mouth that causes pain or a poor fit while wearing dentures
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue or jaw
- Persistent bad breath
- Unexplained weight loss
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have cancer. However, it is important to discuss any such symptoms with your doctor, since a correct and early diagnosis can help improve your chance for successful treatment. Also, these symptoms may signal other health problems.