What are the First Signs of Cancer in the Mouth?

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what are the first signs of cancer in the mouth

Early oral cancer symptoms can be confused for other general health issues like a cold or toothache. Therefore, even if you’re unsure as to whether or not you have this condition, visiting a dentist near you for an oral cancer diagnosis test is a wise precaution that can help you understand your body better and set your mind at ease. 

Symptoms of Oral Cancer

Noted below are some of the many symptoms associated with the development of oral cancer:

  • Persistent, non-healing mouth sores
  • Chronic mouth pain
  • A cheek bulge or thickening
  • Having a continuous aching throat 
  • A white or red spot on the tonsil, tongue, gums, or mouth line  
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue, making it difficult to chew or swallow
  • Numbness in the tongue or another oral place
  • Jaw enlargement that makes dentures uncomfortable or poorly fit
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Voice variations
  • Ongoing foul breath
  • Pain in the jaw or teeth
  • An indent in the neck
  • Loss of weight

Risk Factors of Oral Cancer

Everyone is different, and patients who engage in particular activities may be at a higher risk of getting oral cancer. Alongside lifestyle habits, other factors may play a role as well. 

  • Alcohol and tobacco use. Using tobacco in any way raises the risk of oral cancer because it causes carcinogens to enter the mouth. Drinking too much alcohol can also raise the risk.
  • Age. With an average diagnosis age of 62 years, the risk of oral cancer rises with age.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). This sexually transmitted infection has close ties to a number of mouth cancer subtypes.
  • Sun exposure. The sun’s rays can burn your lips and cause mouth cancer to form.
  • Sexes. It is not known why men are more than twice as likely than women to develop oral cancer.

Why is Early Detection So Important?

Early detection of cancer is essential in the majority of cases. But why?

To start, administering radiation therapy and chemotherapy at the same time, which are the most common treatment strategies for oral cancer, is significantly more successful in the early stages. It becomes far more challenging to isolate and treat the cancer if it has spread to other regions. The 5-year survival rates for oral cancer of the lip, tongue, and mouth floor range from 75 to 93%, assuming the cancer has not progressed to neighboring tissues for the oral cancer exam dentist. If the cancer has spread to nearby tissues, these numbers decrease.

When is an Oral Cancer Screening Recommended?

A visual examination, palpation, oral screening dyes, and lights are some of the oral cancer screening techniques your doctor may employ. In order to monitor any anomalous locations, they could also take pictures of them. Screenings typically last under five minutes and consist of:

Visual test

Your doctor will search for lesions (regions of abnormal tissue) in your mouth and throat during this part of the mouth cancer test. Leukoplakia (thick white patches) and erythroplakia (abnormally red spots) are examples of these anomalies.


Additionally, your healthcare provider will palpate your face, neck, and jaw with their fingertips to check for lumps or bumps. Tell them if there are any uncomfortable or tender spots on your body.

Screening dye

To detect oral cancer, many doctors employ screening methods like toluidine blue dye. The dye will be applied to any lesions, which can help pinpoint regions that are likely to develop cancer.

Detection technology

Additionally, there are specialized lamps that can be used to spot abnormal tissues in your mouth. Your doctor will instruct you to use fluorescent mouthwash before using this device. They’ll next beam a special light into your mouth, which causes normal tissue to appear white and healthy tissue to appear dark.

Axion Dental: Delivering You Effective Oral Healthcare 

When you come see our dentist in Mokena, they could suggest screening for oral cancer if symptoms like mouth sores, white or red spots, and soreness start to occur or they have appeared and have lasted for a number of weeks. Regardless of what your specific symptoms are, it’s very important to diagnose oral cancer as soon as possible, as is the case with any type of cancer, in order to effectively remedy the issue. 

Please contact a member of our team today to book a consultation. We are here to help you take back your oral health.