Symptoms of oral cancer vary from person to person. Since early detection is important for successful treatment of oral cancer, see your doctor or dentist if you notice abnormal areas in your mouth. In addition, if you have a precancerous symptom, clinical trials may be available to help prevent it from developing into cancer.
Symptoms of oral cancer include:
Leukoplakia (literally a “white patch”) is a persistent white area or spot in the oral cavity. In a small number of cases, the spot can be a mix of red and white. 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 90% of erythroplakias are cancerous or precancerous.
Other potential signs of oral cancer include:
- A sore in the mouth that doesn't heal.
- Unexpected loose teeth.
- Unexplained bleeding anywhere in the mouth.
- 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.
MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials
offering promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.