Smoking, excessive drinking and chewing tobacco- some of the many things that you can relate to the deadly mouth cancer, also referred to as mouth cancer. The disease can take a serious toll on your health- both physical and mental. While it might be hard to detect that you are suffering from cancer in the early stages, the mouth cancer signs and symptoms start showing quite early. It is just that an individual tends to ignore them. Or in many cases isn’t aware that such symptoms can be indicating something as dangerous as the development of cancer. As it is a serious issue and one that very few are aware of, here’s your guide of symptoms to watch out for mouth cancer.
What is Mouth Cancer?
Don’t get confused if you hear oral cancer instead of mouth cancer. These are two names for the same thing. In case you are wondering what exactly is oral cancer, so let’s throw some light on the topic before learning about the many mouth cancer symptoms. Oral cancer is defined as the development of a tumor(s) in the lining of the mouth. When we say mouth, you should know that it can be anywhere inside the mouth. This includes your tongue, inside of the cheeks or even the gums. Apart from that, tumors can also develop inside your glands including the ones that produce saliva or the tonsils. However, they are rare.
Moving on let’s have a look at some of the mouth cancer symptoms:
Mouth Cancer Symptoms
1. Mouth Sores
It is quite normal for individuals to get mouth sores. Often these benign canker sores or abscesses will vanish after 7-10 days. However, if the sores have been around for more than two weeks, that’s a sign. A not very good sign but this may point towards a rather serious problem. Apart from the time span for which the sores have been resting in your mouth, the texture of the sores can give you a signal as well. If the sore is thick and hard, it can be a warning sign. But then again it’s not like you are having sores in your mouth every other day that you can judge whether it is a soft and thin one or a thick and hard one. But you can get some clue.
2. Bad Breath
When the mouth cancer tumor outgrows the blood supply, it grows to form an ulcer. At this stage, bacteria can attack the ulcer and these bacteria have a foul smell. In case you are wondering, you can distinguish between the early morning bad breath and the foul smell because the latter is worse than the former. This happens because the bacteria produce gases that release a bad smell. So, if you feel that the bad mouth breath has been there for some time (more than two or three weeks), it is time to rush to the doctor.
3. Red or White Patches
This is a rather safer sign because you spotting a red or white patch(es) on your gums, tongue or any other area of your mouth means that you do not have cancer as yet. But the possibility of you developing a tumor is on its way, nonetheless. Therefore, take it as a precautionary symptom and head to your doctor.
4. Ear Pain
With mouth, cancer comes to pain and not only the pain in the mouth but related organs as well. Ear pain is just one of the organs other than the mouth that will be in pain as a mouth cancer signs and symptoms. If you have persistent pain in one of your ears, it is time to see your doctor. Although an ear pain can be indicative of many other things cancer is one of them. So, take it seriously if it stays for long.
5. Weight Loss
Do not let the sudden drop in your weight excite you. Because this could indicate something dangerous. Losing a couple of pounds when you were not intending to is normal. But having a drastic weight loss when you weren’t even trying should alarm you. And for all the right reasons. The mouth or tongue pain might make you eat less to avoid the pain. Therefore, leading to a weight loss. Moreover, as cancer develops, the tumor consumes more of your calories. Hence, leading to a weight loss.
6. Teeth Loss
Losing teeth is another symptom of mouth cancer. This happens when the tumor appears on the gums. Because then the area that is anchoring your teeth gets affected and you lose teeth as a result.
If you notice a change in your voice all of a sudden. Like if it gets hoarse and does not change over a course of two to three weeks, this could also be a mouth cancer signs and symptoms. Therefore, it is recommended to see the doctor should you notice a change in your voice.
Causes of Mouth Cancer
Having learned about the symptoms, let’s see what causes mouth cancer. Among the many things, the most common ones are:
- Smoking or the use of other types of tobacco.
- Consuming alcohol.
- Infection with HPV.
If you categorize yourself under any of the above, it is a request to please stop drinking and smoking to the extent that it may harm you. You will notice the positive effects on your body after quitting smoking yourself. Same goes for quitting drinking.
Treating Mouth Cancer
There are many ways to treat mouth cancer and fight against cancer. Some of the many treatments that the doctors recommend (based on the stage you are at) include:
- Surgery- the cancerous cells are surgically removed along with some of the surrounding tissues to ensure that the cancer is completely removed.
More often than never these treatments are used in a combination. For example, the surgery might be followed by sessions of radiotherapy. It depends. Whatever the case may be, the treatments are painful and the constant support of family and friends is what one needs at that time. Therefore, be very supportive of individuals going through this torture.