An oral cancer team of doctors

Oral Cancer Signs

Oral cancer is recognized as an uncontrollable growth of cells, often resembling sores inside the mouth. It includes cancers of the tongue, cheeks, lips, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and throat. When left undiagnosed and untreated, this cancer can be fatal. If you have signs of symptoms of oral cancer that concern you or that last longer than 2 weeks, make an appointment with your doctor or dentist. 


The most common symptom of oral cancer is persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth. These sores do not heal, and they bleed easily.  Oral cancer sores may look like common ulcers, but if they are not gone after a couple weeks, you should see your doctor.

Lumps and Bumps

Swelling, rough spots, thickening of the skin, or other types of lumps and bumps are all visible signs of oral cancer. These can develop on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth. A lump in the neck is also common due to enlarged neck lymph nodes. 

Red and White Patches

In addition to sores, the appearance of patches found inside the mouth are common. These patches are generally red, white, or speckled with both colors. Patches can develop on your mouth or lips.

Numbness in the Mouth

Unexplained numbness or tenderness is another sign of oral cancer. This change in sensation can occur in your face, mouth (including your tongue), or neck. 

Jaw Mobility Problems

Your jaw bones and chewing muscles can be affected by oral cancer. Chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue can all become difficult or painful.

Ear Pain

Pain is likely to be felt in one or both ears when dealing with oral cancer. However, your hearing is not affected by this pain. 

Teeth Changes

You may notice a change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together when dealing with oral cancer. This change is due to swelling that occurs with oral cancer. Unexplained loose teeth is also common with oral cancer.

Weight Loss

Oral cancer can also lead to a change in your weight. This most commonly manifests as dramatic weight loss. 

Throat Problems

People with oral cancer may experience persistent hoarseness or other voice changes. Additionally, you may also have a sore throat that does not go away. In some cases, it can feel like you have a lump or object stuck in your throat. 

Last Updated: April 25, 2016