There are many symptoms and signs of oral cancer, such as lumps, sores, white or red patches in the mouth and even difficulty chewing due to jaw swelling or loose teeth. Before we look at the signs of oral cancer, let us talk about the risks and causes of oral cancer.
Are You At Risk of Oral Cancer?
Many things can put you at a greater risk for developing oral cancer or gum cancer. Smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes some of the most common risks of oral cancers. Excessive drinking is another less known risk factor. If you are a heavy drinker, you are more likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer, and if you use tobacco and drink than your risk factor just doubled.
Sun exposure can actually be another way that you can increase your risk of oral cancer. Your lips can become sunburned and this damage can trigger the development of cancer cells. There are many cancers that are linked to human papillomavirus, or HPV, including oral cancers that attack the back of the throat, tongue and in the tonsils.
What Does It Look Like? Believe it or not, in addition to difficulty chewing or swallowing, lumps and sore areas in the mouth, throat or lips and tenderness anywhere in the mouth, one of the earliest signs of gum or oral cancer can be seen by the naked eye. If you have a sore or a mouth ulcer that simply will not heal (lasts longer than two weeks) or bleeds, this can be a visual sign of oral cancer. Additionally, white or red spots or patches in the mouth can be a sign of oral cancer.
If you are at a higher risk of oral cancer, or you have noticed unusual patches or soreness in your mouth, please call our office and schedule a checkup. Early detection is key in treating oral cancer.