Oral Cancer FAQs: What You Need to Know

January 10, 2019

What is oral cancer?

Oral cancer is any to cancer that develops in or on the mouth. Sometimes, it is called mouth cancer or oral cavity cancer. One of several types of cancers, it is grouped in the category of head and neck cancers.


Where can oral cancer occur?

Oral cancer can develop:

  • On the back of the throat
  • Lips
  • Inside the mouth
  • Salivary glands
  • Esophagus
  • Tongue
  • Tonsils
  • Soft tissues of the mouth 


What are symptoms to watch for?

  • White or red patches (gums, tongue or inside of mouth)
  • A sore on the lips, gums, or inside of your mouth the does not heal
  • A lump in the cheek or mouth (or thickening feeling)
  • Numbness in the mouth
  • Change in voice
  • Difficult to swallow or chew food
  • Soreness/pain in the mouth
  • Loose fitting dentures
  • An unexplained feeling that something is caught in the throat
  • Jaw swelling

If any of these symptoms last for more than two weeks, it’s strongly recommended to get checked out by your dentist.


How can I protect myself?

  1. Self-Checks. Because one of the best ways to protect yourself from oral cancer is to check for symptoms, be aware of what is going on in your mouth.
  2. Visit your dentist regularly. Oral cancer often shows warning signs early on. And you often won’t be able to spot them yourself. Regular dentist checkups can help spot symptoms as they appear, so your treatment options will be good.
  3. Don’t smoke, drink excessive alcohol or chew tobacco, all of which are linked to increased risks of oral cancer.
  4. Avoid excessive sun exposure. Wear sunscreen and protect your lips by wearing a hat or staying in the shade.


How often do I need a dental exam?

Unless otherwise directed by your doctor, it is recommended that you visit your dentist twice a year for a dental exam.


Find a dentist near you to schedule today.