Don’t Miss These Early Signs of Oral Cancer

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.

Trouble Swallowing

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

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

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!

Ear Pain

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.