Oral Cancer: Symptoms

Man with expresion of pain holding his cheek 

What are symptoms of oral cancer?


Oral cancer is often found because a person notices unusual changes in his or her mouth. You can check your mouth for early signs of oral cancer. All you need to do is look at your mouth in a mirror. Look for:                                                                                                                                                                      

  • A sore on your lip or in your mouth that won't heal

  • A lump on your lip, in your mouth, or in your throat

  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of your mouth

  • Unusual bleeding, pain, or numbness in your mouth

  • A feeling of something caught in your throat

  • Trouble chewing or swallowing

  • Pain when you chew or swallow

  • A sore throat that doesn't go away

  • Swelling around your jaw

  • Loose or painful teeth

  • A lump, swelling, or mass in your neck that doesn't go away

  • Weight loss that is unexpected

  • A change in your voice

  • A pain in your ear

When to see your healthcare provider

Many of these symptoms may be caused by other health problems. But it's important to see your healthcare provider if you have these symptoms. Only a healthcare provider can tell if you have cancer. Tell your doctor or dentist right away about any problems you have in your mouth or throat.