Oral cancers include cancer of the tissues in the mouth as well as the throat, neck, and even certain parts of the face. With over 10,000 people dying from oral cancer every year, getting screened by your dentist annually beginning at age 18 is essential.
Although dentists look for visual signs of oral cancer that manifest, including lesions in the mouth or throat as well as lumps in the face of neck, there are other, earlier signs or symptoms you may notice.
Be aware of these early signs of oral cancer and be sure to talk with your dentist or physician if you’re experiencing any of the following conditions.
When this is an early warning sign that a form of oral cancer is present, you may keep feeling as though something is stuck in your throat. However, this is a feeling that won’t go away. You may experience feeling as though there is a lump in your throat that’s preventing you from swallowing properly. You may also have trouble chewing and unexplained numbness in your mouth.
If you don’t have a history of trouble swallowing your food, get this symptom evaluated by your dentist, who can conduct an oral cancer screening and refer you to a specialist for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.
If you have trouble speaking or feel as though you have a constant sore throat, this could be an early sign of oral cancer. You may also experience voice changes in addition to hoarseness or difficulty speaking. Depending on where your oral cancer is and what stage it’s in, not everyone will experience this symptom.
However, if you’ve been experiencing hoarseness that’s persistent or feel as though you have a sore throat all the time, visit your dentist or primary care physician for a referral to get further evaluated for oral cancer. These are symptoms you’ll want to get addressed as soon as possible!
Trouble Moving Your Jaw or Tongue
If your jaw or tongue feels stiff, painful, or even numb, it’s time for an oral cancer screening with your dentist. You may also experience swelling of the jaw or loosening of the teeth without any apparent cause. If you’re consistently experiencing pain or numbness in your mouth, it’s time to seek a professional opinion!
This may sound like an unusual symptom for people with oral cancer, but the truth is that some people will experience a persistent earache or ear pain in just one ear. This aching may start out as mild or intermittent, but will eventually get worse. Since oral cancers include those of the face and neck, getting an exam done is essential to determine what the underlying problem is.
Oral cancer is a devastating disease that should not be taken lightly. With regular screenings by your professional dentist, you can catch oral cancer early for your best chances at treatment success. If you’re experiencing any of the above signs, get an evaluation and exam done by your dentist to determine your next steps.