Mouth cancer, or oral cancer, can occur anywhere in the mouth, on the surface of the tongue, lips, inside the cheek, in the gums, in the roof and floor of the mouth, in the tonsils, or in the salivary glands. It mainly occurs after the age of 40, and the risk is more than twice as high in men as it is in women.
What you should know about oral cancer
Oral cancer may present as a lesion or tumour anywhere in the mouth. In the early stages, there are often no signs or symptoms, but smokers and heavy drinkers should have regular check-ups with their dentist, as they may identify early signs.
Signs and symptoms include:
- patches on the lining of the mouth or tongue, usually red or red and white in colour
- mouth ulcers or sores that do not heal
- swelling that persists for over three weeks
- a lump or thickening of the skin or lining of the mouth
- pain when swallowing
- loose teeth for no apparent reason
- poorly fitting dentures
- jaw pain or stiffness
- sore throat
- a sensation that something is stuck in the throat
- painful tongue
- hoarse voice; and
- pain in the neck or ear that does not go away
Having any of these symptoms does not mean that a person has mouth cancer, but it is worth checking it with a healthcare professional.
Dr Christiaan Slabbert, Dentist Intercare [email protected]