Oral Cancer Symptoms

Awareness for oral cancer is of such great importance because the high fatality rate among oral cancer patients could have been lessened with earlier detection.  Today we are going to talk about oral cancer symptoms and the types spots that those screening for oral cancer symptoms are looking for. MD Anderson Cancer Center offers an excellent resource for information on oral cancer.

There are three types of suspicious spots: Leukoplakia, Erythroplakia and Erythroleukoplakia.  Below is information from MD Anderson on the types of areas that raise concern when oral cancer screenings are being conducted and oral cancer symptoms to look for:

Suspicious Areas:

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.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer:

  • Sore in the mouth or throat that doesn’t heal
  • Loose teeth
  • Lump or thickening in the neck, face, jaw, cheek, tongue or gums
  • Difficulty swallowing or the sensation that something is caught in the throat
  • Earache or sore throat that does not go away
  • Dentures that cause discomfort or do not fit well
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue or jaw
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Change in voice

A person who is experiencing these oral cancer symptoms does not necessarily have oral cancer. However, as early detection is critical to increased survival rate, it is important to have an oral cancer scan conducted by your dentist in order to ensure health.  Many dentists are beginning to make oral cancer screening a routine part of patient appointments.  Check with your dentist to learn if it is a part of your appointment and request a screening if not.


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