HomeHealthHealth Conditions

Do you know the early signs of mouth cancer?

Do you know the early signs of mouth cancer?

What are the first signs of mouth cancer? If you're not sure, dentist Sundeep Patel shares seven early signs you should look out for

Mouth cancer is on the rise. A new report shows that 8,864 people in the UK were diagnosed last year, which is an increase of 34 per cent compared to 10 years ago. This report is worrying, especially when so many symptoms go unnoticed.

November marks Mouth Cancer Action Month, which aims to raise awareness of this disease and the symptoms to look out for, and of course it's always better to catch it early. Sundeep Patel, Cosmetic Dentist and Clinical Lead for Smile Straight, reveals the seven early signs of mouth cancer to watch out for.

Vocal changes, or hoarseness 

If you notice any changes to your voice, find it difficult to talk in a lower voice or notice any hoarseness then this could be a sign that something is wrong, and it may be a good idea to speak to your GP for peace of mind.

"Hoarseness may occur, and you may find that you are having to clear your throat more often"

It can often feel harder to speak in a lower voice, or you may find it more challenging to speak loud or speak for long periods of time. Hoarseness may also occur, and you may find that you are having to clear your throat more often. 

Swollen lymph nodes 

Swollen lymph nodes are common and usually nothing to worry about. However, in some circumstances prolonged swollen nodes can indicate something serious.

Swollen lymph nodes

If you're experiencing prolonged swollen lymph nodes, see your GP

Swelling in one or more lymph nodes in the neck is a common early symptom of mouth and oropharyngeal cancer. If the lump appears to be getting bigger, hurts or feels hard or unusual, book to see your GP right away.  

A feeling of thickness in your throat 

An early symptom of mouth cancer is a feeling that there is something lodged in your throat, or a feeling of thickness in the throat. This may be subtle and occur gradually, or you may find that your throat feels suddenly very different.

"An early symptom of mouth cancer is a feeling that there is something lodged in your throat"

You may also notice changes in the way your throat feels when you swallow, it may feel harder to swallow, especially when eating or drinking. You may notice that your swallowing has changed or takes more effort. You might also notice that you have a sore or raspy throat

Difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking 

Mouth cancer can affect the way we do normal things from our mouth. Swallowing may become a chore, and you might also find that chewing is difficult or painful. Often chewing feels different, and your teeth may not feel secure or could feel wobbly, so this could be something to keep an eye on. Speaking may also become difficult.  

Pain in ears and headaches 

Pain in your ears which is paired with headaches might also be a sign that something is not quite right. You might notice that your ears feel muffled, or as if there is something in the way of hearing properly. Ear pain is also associated with early signs of mouth cancer.

Man with headache

If you are experiencing headaches and ear pain that isn't normal for you, see your GP

You may also find that you are suffering with an increased amount of headaches than what is normal for you. 

A tooth or teeth that become loose for no clear reason 

One symptom which often gets overlooked is experiencing unexplained dental issues such as loose or wobbly teeth.

"You should visit your dentist who can take a look and see if you need to be referred to a doctor"

If you eat a healthy balanced diet, have no history of dental complications and start to notice your teeth feel loose, wobbly or not quite secure, then this can often be a sign of oral cancer and you should visit your dentist who can take a look and see if you need to be referred to a doctor. 

Numbness in your mouth 

If you are experiencing a persistent numbness in the mouth, lips and tongue then this could be a sign of something serious and you should speak to your doctor as soon as you can. You may also notice white or red patches on the inside of your mouth, which can also be an early symptom of the disease.

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...