Mouth cancer - Symptoms 

Symptoms of mouth cancer 

Symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • red, or red and white, patches on the lining of your mouth or tongue
  • one or more mouth ulcers that do not heal after three weeks
  • a swelling in your mouth that lasts for more than three weeks
  • pain when swallowing (dysphagia)
  • a tooth, or teeth, that becomes loose for no obvious reason
  • a persistent pain in the neck
  • a hoarse voice
  • unexplained weight loss 
  • unusual changes in your sense of taste
  • earache 
  • the lymph nodes (glands) in your neck become swollen

When to seek medical advice

Many of the symptoms listed above can also be caused by less serious conditions, such as minor infections, that do not usually require a medical diagnosis.

It is strongly recommended that you visit your GP if you develop any of the symptoms listed above and they last for more than three weeks. Symptoms of an infection usually clear up much sooner than this. It is especially important to seek medical advice if you are a heavy drinker or smoker.

Page last reviewed: 31/05/2012

Next review due: 31/05/2014


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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

janecakebread said on 26 September 2013

I was hoping there would be photos of the oral cancers

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Dental check-ups

Mouth cancer tends not to cause any noticeable symptoms during the initial stages of the disease.

This is why it is important to have regular dental check-ups, particularly if you are a smoker and/or a heavy drinker, because a dentist may often be able to detect the condition during an examination.

You should have a dental check-up at least every two years. However, more frequent check-ups may be recommended if you have a history of tooth decay or gum disease.