Cancer can form in many different areas of the body. It begins with the abnormal growth of cells and usually develops into tumors which can interfere with normal physical properties and cause undesired side effects and eventually death if left untreated. One type of cancer is mouth cancer and it involves the formation and growth of cancer of the lips, tongue, gums and floor of the mouth. It may affect the inside of the cheeks and palate but this is not common. As with most cancers, early detection is essential in helping to treat the disease effectively to provide a cure or a good quality of life for as long as possible. It is therefore very important to be aware of some of the symptoms of this type of disease.
This is especially important if you are at risk for this type of cancer. It tends to strike those people who are regular users of tobacco. This includes not only cigarettes or cigars but pipes, snuff or chewing tobacco. Other factors which can increase the risk of developing mouth cancer can be alcohol consumption, poor oral care or badly fitting dentures. The combination of smoking and heavy alcohol consumption is a leading factor in developing the disease as well.
There are a number of important symptoms which may indicate mouth cancer. The two most common symptoms are:
- An ulcer in the mouth that does not heal. More than 80% of the people who had mouth cancer had this symptom
- A persistent discomfort, burning or pain in the mouth
Several other symptoms may be indicative of mouth cancer. They include:
- Red or white patches in the mouth or the throat which do not heal of go away
- An unidentified lump in the mouth or throat.
- Thickening of the lips
- Irritation in the throat or a feeling like something is stuck in the throat
- Bleeding or numbness in the mouth which may occur throughout the day or at random times
- Teeth start to fall out without any cause
- And unusual lump in the neck
- Sudden and unexpected weight loss
- Difficulty in talking
If you find red or white patches in your mouth, it could be indicative of leukoplakia or erythroplakia. These may be non-cancerous and the result of a fungal infection. However it always best to check with your doctor to rule that out.
Problems with talking or speech are a serious problem and are definitely something which should be checked out by your doctor as soon as possible. A common symptom of mouth cancer is difficulty in speaking so pay close attention to this problem.
Sudden or unexpected weight loss is of concern. While it may not indicate mouth cancer it could be the result of another serious medical problem. Either way it needs further attention.
A persistent lump in the neck is probably attributable to a lymph node problem. If this is the case it should be checked out as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that many of the symptoms can arise from other causes. But they can also be associated with mouth cancer so don’t take a chance and leave it unchecked.