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Oral cancer is cancer that develops anywhere in the mouth, including on the lips, the lining of the lips and cheeks, tongue, hard palate and floor of the mouth. Sometimes, oral cancer is found by a dentist, hygienist or physician during a routine exam before noticeable symptoms develop. Other times, however, an oral cancer diagnosis is made after an individual experiences symptoms and consults with their physician. As with other cancers, oral cancer is generally more treatable when it is discovered in its early stages. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of oral cancer so they can be promptly reported to a physician as soon as they appear.

The symptoms of oral cancer vary depending on where in the mouth the cancer forms. That said, the most common symptoms of oral cancer are:

  1. Persistent pain in the mouth
  2. A sore in the mouth that does not heal
  3. A lump in the cheek
  4. Numbness in the mouth
  5. Red or white patches on the tongue, gums, tonsils or other parts of the mouth
  6. Difficulty chewing or swallowing

Does having oral cancer symptoms mean I have oral cancer?

It should be noted that the symptoms of oral cancer can have many potential causes – most of which are far less serious than cancer. Therefore, the presence of these symptoms in and of itself should not be a cause for concern. If you are showing symptoms of oral cancer, schedule an appointment with a physician who can confirm or rule out a cancer diagnosis.

If you are concerned about potential oral cancer symptoms, request a consultation at Moffitt Cancer Center by calling 1-888-663-3488 or submitting a new patient registration form online. You do not need a referral.