What is Oral Cancer?
The oropharynx is a part of the pharynx (throat). It consists of mainly three subsites which are soft palate, the base of tongue and tonsils. Cancers arising from these areas are categorized under oropharyngeal cancers. These cancers account for nearly 10% of all head and neck cancers. The incidence of oropharyngeal cancer is increasing because of the increased prevalence of HPV infection. Males are more commonly affected compared to females. The median age of diagnosis is 60-70 years. In this article, we discuss the signs and symptoms of oral cancer.
Cancer occurs when an uncontrollable growth of cells invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue. Oral cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth, including the lips, tongue, and the throat, as well as the salivary glands, pharynx, larynx, and sinuses. Early detection is crucial in overcoming this disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Oral Cancer
If any of the following symptoms persist for more than two weeks, you have to see your doctor:
- A persistent mouth sore that does not heal
- Jaw swelling that makes dentures hurt or fit poorly
- A lump or thickening in the cheek
- A lump in the neck
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsils, or lining of the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- Areas of red or white lesions in your mouth or lips
- The feeling of a lump or object stuck in your throat
- Swellings that make wearing dentures uncomfortable
- Persistent mouth pain
- Loosening of the teeth
- Weight loss
- Voice changes
- Persistent bad breath
- Pain in the teeth or jaw
- Pain in one of your ears but without any loss of hearing
- Pain in the neck or ear that does not go away
- Poorly fitting dentures
- Trouble moving your jaw or tongue, or problems with chewing, swallowing or speaking
- Loose teeth with no apparent dental cause
- Lingering sore throat or hoarseness
Early signs and symptoms of oral cancer may be mistaken for other issues, such as a toothache or cold. If symptoms persist for several weeks or months, it is essential to see your doctor so that, if oral cancer is present, it may be diagnosed as soon as possible. Many symptoms caused by oral tumors may be due to other, less severe conditions or other cancers.
Make an appointment with your doctor or dentist if you have any persistent signs and symptoms that bother you and last more than two weeks. Your doctor will likely investigate other more common causes for your signs and symptoms first, such as an infection.