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Oral Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of oral cancer vary from person to person. Often, symptoms may be caused by other problems that are not dangerous. 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 is a white area or spot in the oral cavity. About 25% of leukoplakias are cancerous or precancerous.

Erythroplakia is a red, raised area or spot that bleeds if scraped. About 70% of erythroplakias are cancerous or precancerous.

Erythroleukoplakia is a spot with both red and white areas.

Other oral cancer symptoms include:

  • Sore in the mouth or throat that doesn't heal
  • Loose teeth
  • Lump or thickening in the neck, face, jaw, cheek, tongue or gums
  • Dentures that cause discomfort or do not fit well
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue or jaw
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Unexplained weight loss

These symptoms usually do not mean you have cancer. However, it is important to discuss any symptoms with your doctor, since a correct diagnosis can help improve your chance for successful treatment. Also, these symptoms may signal other health problems.

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Knowledge Center

Find the latest news and information about oral cancer in our Knowledge Center, including blog posts, articles, videos, news releases and more.