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Cancer of the Mouth and Throat (cont.)

Mouth and Throat Cancer Symptoms

People may not notice the very early symptoms or signs of oral cancer. People with an oropharyngeal cancer may notice any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • A painless lump on the lip, in the mouth, or in the throat
  • A sore on the lip or inside the mouth that does not heal
  • A painless white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth
  • Unexplained pain, bleeding, or numbness inside the mouth
  • A sore throat that does not go away
  • Pain or difficulty with chewing or swallowing
  • Swelling of the jaw
  • Hoarseness or other change in the voice
  • Pain in the ear

Picture of oral squamous cell cancer appearing as a tongue ulcer
Oral squamous cell cancer appearing as a tongue ulcer. SOURCE: Image reprinted
with permission from, 2012.

These symptoms are not necessarily signs of cancer. Mouth sores and other symptoms may be caused by many other less serious conditions.

When to Seek Medical Care for Mouth and Throat Cancer

If a person has any of the symptoms of head and neck cancer, he or she should make an appointment to see a primary care professional or dentist right away.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/18/2016

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Cancers of the Oral Mucosa »

Approximately 90% of oral cancers are squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which is seen in older men, typically on the lip or lateral part of the tongue.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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