Mouth Cancer Symptoms
Fortunately, most mouth cancer symptoms are noticeable and if caught early, can drastically increase the likelihood of a cure. Visiting your dentist regularly (one every six months) for a routine checkup will help identify and assess any signs of mouth cancer.
If you do notice any of the following signs or symptoms, please seek the assistance and advice of your dentist:
Bad breath – although bad breath can be a sign of several different oral issues, it can be linked to mouth cancer. People suffering with mouth cancer will have noticeably bad breath (you may also experience a metallic taste associated with mouth cancer). This can also affect your sense of taste.
Pain in your mouth – if you’re experiencing persistent pain or discomfort in your mouth (lasting more than two weeks) it may be a sign of mouth cancer.
Ulcers that do not heal – if your ulcer has not healed in two weeks, it may be an early sign of mouth cancer.
Problems speaking – mouth cancer can affect your throat and therefore your speech. Your voice may appear huskier or you might slurring your words.
Difficulty swallowing – you may experience a burning sensation when trying to swallow. You may also feel as if food is sticking to your throat and you require water to help digest it. If this is the case, it’s advised you seek the advice of your dentist.
A lump in your neck – the lump in your neck may be a sign of a large lymph node. The swelling of lymph nodes is a common sign of mouth cancer and must be treated immediately.
Red or white patches inside your mouth or throat – discoloured parts of your mouth can be early indications of gum disease or mouth cancer. White patches are known as leukoplakia and red patches are known as erythroplakia.
Understanding these patches
While these patches are not initially forms of mouth cancer, if left, the risk of mouth cancer increases. Alternatively, these patches are also closely associated with oral thrush. If the patches are related to thrush, antifungal treatment should remove the patches (this also means the patches are not cancerous).
Other symptoms may include lumps in your mouth (tongue, lip, throat), bleeding in your mouth, loose or broken teeth and difficulty moving your jaw.
All of which are common signs of mouth cancer and you should seek the advice and attention of your dentist.
Mouth Cancer in the Early Stages
It’s important to be able to identify and understand the types and stages of mouth cancer. Knowing what type of mouth cancer you have can tell you what type of cell the cancer started in and knowing what stage the cancer is at can tell you how big it is and whether or not it has spread.
There is a different staging process between mouth cancer and oropharyngeal cancers. To elaborate, mouth cancers can start in different parts of the mouth. This may include mouth cancer on the gums, throat, tongue, lips etc.
Whereas oropharyngeal cancers are commonly found just behind the mouth. This includes the tonsils, and the back of the tongue.
You can learn more about the stages of mouth cancer by visiting Mouth Cancer Foundation.
Mouth Cancer Treatment Options
There are several treatment options depending on the type of mouth cancer you have. Once your dentist or doctor has analysed your symptoms, they will recommend the best course of treatment.
Some of the common treatments for mouth cancer include:
Radiotherapy – this type of treatment involves the use of high level energy waves (similar to X-Rays) to break down and eliminate cancer cells. You may be recommended external beam radiotherapy for mouth and oropharyngeal cancer.
Chemotherapy – chemotherapy is one of the most common cancer treatments and uses anti cancer drugs (cytotoxic) to eliminate the presence of cancer cells. Your treatment may include prescription medication, which will be discussed with your doctor.
Chemoradiotherapy – the combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat mouth and oropharyngeal cancer. Most chemoradiotherapy courses involve prescribed drugs to help kill cancer cells. It is the combination of these drugs and the use of radiotherapy that helps eliminate cancer cells.
Targeted cancer drugs – some drugs are able to pinpoint cancer cells and stop them from growing and surviving. Some drugs actually target and kill the cancer cells, whereas others help the body’s immune system to attack the cancer (known as immunotherapies).
Surgery – one of the most popular treatment options. Patients may have surgery for many reasons associated with mouth cancer, such as fixing a problem involving difficulty eating and swallowing. There are several surgery options to consider, all of which depend on the type of cancer you have.
Some common operations might include:
- Surgery to remove lymph nodes in your neck (head and neck cancers)
- Reconstruction surgery (the removal of certain tissues and the reconstruction of the targeted area)
- Surgery to help eat and swallow
Your doctor will advise on the best course of treatment when your type of mouth cancer has been diagnosed.
Goccles – Identifying Early Signs of Mouth Cancer
Hove Dental are one of the only clinics in Brighton and Hove to use Goccles to help identify potential mouth cancers.
How Goccles Work
Goccles examine the autofluorescence (the fluorescence of naturally occurring substances, such as chlorophyll, collagen and fluorite) to identify abnormalities of the oral cavity and initial signs of mouth cancer using special filters.
This is an extremely low cost oral visualisation system that can detect early signs of cancer, allowing for earlier dental intervention. For more information on Goccles and how they work, please visit our Goccles treatment page.
Is Mouth Cancer Curable?
Fortunately, mouth cancer is highly treatable if it is caught during the early stages.
Patients diagnosed with stage one oral or pharyngeal cancer have an 83% chance of surviving for longer than five years. Minor surgery can be performed to completely remove the cancer so it never comes back.
Even if you mouth cancer has exceeded stage one, the improvements in surgery and radiotherapy and medicine mean that your mouth cancer survival rate is still better than 50:50.
However, if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, the chance of survival lowers to roughly 38%.
This is why it is important to visit your dentist twice a year to ensure any signs of oral cancer are identified and swiftly treated.
Book Your Routine Checkup Today
Visiting a dentist twice a year is highly recommended for oral hygiene reasons and to identify any underlying symptoms of mouth cancer. Early identification could save your life, which is why it’s important to visit your dentist.
Our team provides a professional and comprehensive treatment options, from restorative work and routine checkups to cosmetic and teeth whitening treatments. We provide exceptional dental care to patients across Brighton and Hove.
Speak with our friendly team today to learn more about the treatments we provide and how we can aid your oral health.
Mouth Cancer Charities
Additionally, for more information on mouth cancer and the charities working to raise awareness, please visit the Mouth Cancer Foundation website and the Oral Health Foundation. These are two exceptional charities that work hard to raise awareness regarding mouth cancer.